After the meeting with the President, the leaders, who have been sharply divided by early succession politics, creating two groupings, Kieleweke, that appears to support the Handshake between Uhuru and Opposition leader Raila Odinga and the Tangatanga team that is in support of DP William Ruto’s bid, walked out optimistic that the region could now have common bearing in tackling challenges that have created a wedge among themselves.
Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi said the meeting had left all parties happy, following the President‘s address on key issues, lauding his call on leaders in the region to exercise political hygiene.
“The President was spot on the need for us to unite and exercise political hygiene. The leaders were enthusiastic in receiving him and the meeting addressed key issues of the region’s unity and economic development,” he said.
The governor said it was important for the President to call on the leaders to exercise patience on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report. “He wondered why people are making all this noise when they have not read it,” said Kiraitu.
Nominated MP Maina Kamanda said the President was categorical that factional politics in Mt. Kenya would hurt his legacy and urged leaders to stop petty politicking. He is a key Uhuru lieutenant.
“Why can’t we wait until the BBI report is out so that we can remove the bad things and implement the good ideas?” former Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti said.
Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua commended the President’s support for equality of the vote, a matter that had led to a section of Central Kenya leaders warning that they would shoot down the BBI report if it did not address injustices in the weight of the vote.
“We are happy that he supports us on that, and that is all that we have been saying; one-man-one-vote-one-shilling. We are on the same page on this. But importantly, as he has said, let us wait for the report to see what it proposes,” he said.
Embu Senator Njeru Ndwiga shared the governor’s sentiments: “The meeting appeared to be getting the people from the region together as we are now seriously fragmented. We feel that most of our concerns, especially matters to do with agriculture, were addressed, although there is a promise from the Head of State that he will visit each of the region’s counties, to specifically address each of their unique issues,” said Mr. Ndwiga.
Ndwiga said the President made a great effort to pacify the region, urging its leaders to focus on more important issues and not dwell on politics, “which to me makes a lot of sense”.
Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said the meeting was a forum for the President to give the region direction, dissuading them against engaging in early politics. The MP said it was important for local leaders to be taken through the required “political hygiene” so as to end the hostilities that have been brought about by early campaigns by leaders positioning themselves for 2022 elections.
He said it was important that Uhuru demystified issues that had split the region, creating fodder for politicians engaging in succession politics.
“He was displeased that people are discussing how to succeed him while he is still in office, cautioning us against premature politics and fighting one another,” he said.”
Unlike in previous successions, there is no clear successor this time round, a factor that is increasingly causing discomfort and a feeling of political vulnerability.
A string of political setbacks has also taken a heavy toll on the region’s collective psyche, fostering a deep sense of siege, which has seen cracks within the region’s leadership in the form of Jubilee Party’s Kieleweke and Tangatanga factions and women lobbies of Embrace and Inua Mama.