Kiraitu Murungi dithers on support for Raila Odinga
Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi has said he will back down on his support for ODM leader Raila Odinga if members of his party do not endorse his candidacy.
The Mt Kenya region is sharply divided over who to support between Mr Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto.
Mr Murungi, who had declared support for Mr Odinga and hosted him in October during the former PM’s Azimio la Umoja rallies in the county, yesterday said his support for Mr Odinga was personal.
He said his backing of Mr Odinga was based on his personal assessment of what the opposition leader was capable of delivering for devolution.
However, the governor said he now has a political outfit – the Devolution Empowerment Party (DEP) – which would decide who to support.
“I cannot decide who will be DEP’s presidential candidate. That decision will have to be consultative and if members say we support Ruto or any other candidate and not Raila, I will have no option but to abide by the decision,” he told the Nation.
The governor said the party was keen to secure a majority of the votes in Embu, Tharaka Nithi, Meru and Isiolo, besides gaining support from across the country.
Preferred presidential candidate
“When we go out to look for the right presidential candidate, let us not consider who our friends or enemies are because there is no friendship or enmity in politics. What matters are the interests of our people,” he said.
He cautioned Mt Kenya leaders to consider the interests of the people in the region before choosing their preferred presidential candidate.
The governor said that from past experience, those running for President entice leaders from regions with high numbers of votes with promises that they don’t intend to fulfil.
The falling-out between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Dr Ruto and the collapse of the Jubilee Party has caused further confusion among leaders in the region.
Though party leaders in Mt Kenya, including Narc Kenya’s Martha Karua, former Agriculture Cabinet Mwangi Kiunjuri (The Service Party) and Chama cha Kazi’s Moses Kuria, launched a unity forum, the region remains divided between the East and the West.
“We must organise ourselves so that those vying for President come to beg us. We must be where the national cake is shared. In the next government, we ought to be in the kitchen cabinet,” Mr Murungi said yesterday.
He warned that Mt Kenya risks remaining voiceless if its leaders are divided and pursue selfish interests.
Strengthen regional parties
He said that with the region unlikely to produce a President in the next 20 years, leaders should strengthen regional parties so that the outfits can negotiate for the interests of the people.
“Under Jubilee, we have become voiceless and lacked political power. We must bring our people back on the right path,” he said.
“If we come together under DEP, the Mt Kenya East region will have 1.5 million votes as a bargaining chip for those who are looking for the top seat. When they come, we will put our demands on paper.”
“The reason we decided to revive our party is that we were turned into spectators in Jubilee and we were reduced to reading about the government in the newspapers and we don’t want this to happen again in the next government,” the governor added.
However, National Council of Elders patron Kung’u Muigai yesterday reiterated that Mt Kenya will field a presidential candidate and asked the region to unite behind one individual.
“We showed the way when we said Justin Muturi (National Assembly Speaker) is the right person to lead the region but many politicians opposed us,” Mr Muigai, a cousin of President Kenyatta, said yesterday by phone.
“But we are sure that they will see the light and back Muturi for the presidency.”