A mountain divided: Battle for the soul of the Mountain as the final year of President Kenyatta’s presidency beckons

Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru, Peter Munya,Moses Kuria,William Kabogo and National Assembly speaker Justin Muturi. Image/Courtesy

Supremacy battles for the Vote rich Mount Kenya region have began to shape up. The coronation of National Assembly speaker Justin Muturi as the spokesperson of the Mount Kenya region brought about mixed feelings, with the announcement receiving mixed feelings from the various political players in the region.

The event which was heavily guarded by police especially after threats of disruption from Muranga Governor Mwangi Wairia and local youths was a clear pointer to a divided Mountain and the dilemma of what political direction the GEMA community will take upon the exit of President Kenyatta.

While most of the political leaders from the upper Mount Kenya region were okay with the elevation of Muturi as the region’s spokesperson, the central Kenya region seem to have been deeply divided by the coronation; and with that attempted to create the perception that the National Assembly speaker was being forced down the throats of the Mountain residents in an apparent attempt by those close to the president to influence the mount Kenya perception.

The soft-spoken former magistrate therefore has a heavy task of bringing together the region, including his perceived competitors who have been strategizing all along on how to take over from president Kenyatta. This list of politicians includes Governor Ann Mumbi Waiguru, Agriculture cabinet secretary Peter Munya, Gatundu South member of parliament Moses Kuria as well as former Kiambu governor William Kabogo.

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Smarting from his party’s win in the recently conducted Juja by-election, Gatundu south member of parliament Moses Kuria has positioned himself as the man to watch, ready to take on President Kenyatta head on in a bid to wrestle control over the mountain vote from the president. The Gatundu South MP is closely associated with William Ruto, with his party being a member of the UDA the party that the deputy president is expected to use for his presidential bid in 2022. The controversial Gatundu south MP is however a man who is difficult to predict, and according to political analysts, Mr. Kuria remains close to president Kenyatta, and his support for William Ruto may not last long.

Former Meru governor and current Agriculture cabinet secretary Peter Munya is another man to watch. The tough talking CS is feared and loved in his home backyard in equal measure. To his supporters, he’s the ideal man to succeed Uhuru in Central Kenya. But for some, despite his courage and loyalty, he’s better off in his Meru backyard. According to the standard, leaders supporting Munya including East African Legislative Assembly MP Mpuru Aburi said he was best placed to play that role because of his loyal support to President Kenyatta, his age advantage and courage to confront ‘real game-changer issues’. However, it is the ongoing talk from the Upper eastern region especially Tharaka-Nithi and Meru counties that they have supported the Kikuyus for far too long and it was time to pay back that may play to the advantage of Peter Munya. Indeed, this deep perception was brought out by Imenti South Member of Parliament Kathuri Murungi who earlier on stated that “We (Ameru) have  supported Central Kenya for many years since former President’s Kibaki’s stub for presidency in 1992. It is very welcome if our brothers in Central Kenya have decided to front the CS for Agriculture if what was pronounced by (David) Murathe is anything to go by,” To Munya’s advantage is the fact that he still has a political party (PNU) and strategically, he refused to fold up the party and join Jubilee prior to the last election as perhaps as a strategy for his 2022 election challenge.

Mr. Munya however faces a big challenge in even uniting the Meru together to launcha serious case for his crowning as the Mount Kenya Kingpin. His political rivally with Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi may play to his disadvantage. It is indeed true that most of the Meru region residents view Kiraitu as the senior politician in the region. and it is expected that their supremacy battle would dent the chances of the Mount Kenya Kingpin coming from Meru. Worse still, the KIkuyu community has never played second fidddle, and it will technically be impossible for Kikuyus to rely on political direction from the Meru, Isiolo, Tharaka-nithi or Embu political leaders. The potential fo a united Mount Kenya region is however high, especially if the upper Mouny Kenya region continue with their threat for form their own political party if their Kikuyu cousins continue to “use” them. And considering that this region will have potentially over 2 million votes come 2022, it will be scramble by political bigwigs to try and win them over.

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Kirinyaga governor Ann Waiguru is another politician who for long is believed to have strategically aligned herself to take over from Kenyatta. The tough and ambitious governor has fought many battles and truth be told, she has won. Earlier in 2020, she won an attempt to impeach her by the county assembly of Kirinyaga and successfully defended herself in the senate. It is indeed telling that since then, she appears to have established a working relationship with the Kirinyaga county MCAs. It is believed that the Governor’s woes were a result of 2022 political machinations that were heavily funded by her competitors including the Ngirici’s as well as interior PS Karanja Kibicho. Her attempt to use the BBI to launch her claim to the throne seem to have hit a dead end with the court ruling against the BBI, but that does not mean she can be underestimated. Those in support of her bid say she is the most result oriented mount kenya leader, her ambition and political wit also endears her to the perople.

Former Kiambu governor William Kabogo is another is another central Kenya politician highly considered as a successor to president Kenyatta. The tough talking governor is believed to be among the few political bigwigs in central Kenya who have the financial muscle to influence his rise to the political helm of the Mount Kenya region. The supporters of the former Kiambu governor view him as a strong, decisive character who cannot be pushed around by any politician. He is also close to president Kenyatta and since the last election where he lost his election to Fedinard Waititu, he alluded to that his fall was engineered by deputy president William Ruto in an attempt by the deputy president to remove any politically strong candidates from the political matrix in order to influence his prsidential election in 2022. From this, it is assumed that Kabogo will be warmly received by the opponents of the deputy president in Central Kenya, after all, “an enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

As things unfold, it remains to be seen what political direction the mountain will take. and with this, it is expected that the Mount Kenya region will be politically exciting to watch come next elections.