Kenya: Small Parties Jostling to Reap From Jubilee Party Split in Mt Kenya

June 22, 2021

Small parties funded by wealthy backers have made a comeback to the political scene in Mt Kenya jostling to reap from the fallout in Jubilee with President Kenyatta retiring next year.

The parties are engaged in a vicious fight with their leaders trying to outdo each other to capture the attention of leading presidential candidates who are shopping around for running mates.

Mt Kenya is at a crossroads with President Kenyatta leaving office after serving two terms and, without a clear regional kingpin to inherit the mantle, it has become a battleground where Deputy President William Ruto, who has fallen out with his boss, has made significant inroads.

Kenya National Congress, associated with former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, The Service Party of former Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, the Democratic Party which is hosting former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo and Party of National Unity (PNU) led by Peter Munya are among political formations that have come back to life.

The Peoples Empowerment Party (PEP) associated with Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, the Usawa Party of Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria and Narc Kenya led by Martha Karua have also stirred up the scene.

Alliance Party of Kenya

Billionaire Thuo Mathenge’s The New Democrats Party is also in the fray while in Meru, talk is rife that Governor Kiraitu Murungi is on the verge of reviving the Alliance Party of Kenya (APK) that he dissolved in 2016 to join Jubilee.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi is reportedly looking to advance his political ambitions through the Independence party Kanu, where he had been elected the National Organising Secretary in 2008. He has never publicly ditched it.

The ruling Jubilee Party’s agenda is promoted in the region by the likes of vice-chairman David Murathe.

Jubilee faces stiff competition from Deputy President William Ruto-linked United Democratic Alliance (UDA) whose popular backers in the region include Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua.

Mr Muturi has since been crowned in Meru, Embu and Murang’a as the region’s kingpin, a development supported by Governors Kiraitu, Nyaga Wambora (Embu), and Tharaka Nithi’s Muthomi Njuki.

Big forces

“Mr Muturi’s coronation is the working of big forces in our politics that believe that the Agikuyu should not rule this country again and in handing out power to those others in outer tribes, are out to put in place a kingpin they can manipulate,” Mr Gachagua claimed.

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To further complicate the tyranny of numbers attributed to Mt Kenya with votes now estimated to be eight million, the Agikuyu, Aembu and Ameru who live in Rift Valley have now expressed a desire to delink themselves from their Central, Nairobi and Eastern kin.

“We want to be left to chart our independent political path. We want to be given the latitude to decide on making our political decisions as Rift Valley Gema since once we get our politics wrong, we suffer the consequences on our own,” said Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri.

The Gema in Nyandarua too have been complaining of being used to swell the numbers in ballot boxes in favour of their Central region relatives but short-changed when it comes to sharing the spoils.

According to Gema chairman Lawi Imathiu, “these compartments in our region are good for democracy but if they serve to divide us, then it gets dangerous.”

Mr Imathiu said “parties should behave in an orderly manner, sell policies and leave the voters to freely make a choice.”

So far, Kuria, Wa Iria, Kabogo, Munya and Kenneth, Kiunjuri have been linked to contesting the presidency hence creating internal competition within Mt Kenya region.