The populous Mt Kenya region with six million voters has become a battleground for presidential hopefuls.
Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga, ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka are cross-crossing the region in a bid to win the support of residents.
The leaders are keen to pick a running mate from Mt Kenya to sway voters.
On Monday, a meeting of top politicians from the region declared that the Deputy President coming from Mt Kenya is not negotiable.
The meeting that brought together The Service Party (TSP) leader Mwangi Kiunjuri, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, Narc Kenya leader Minister Martha Karua, Dr Mwenda Makathimo and former Tetu MP Ndung’u Gethenji agreed on a 6-point plan for the region.
“The position of Deputy President coming from Mt Kenya region is not negotiable. Whereas we cannot stop anyone from the region from vying for the presidency, that will be an individual pursuit. The generally accepted consensus is that the Deputy President must come from Mt Kenya Region,” read part of the statement released after the talks.
The politicians said the unity of purpose for Mt Kenya leaders is paramount and cannot be compromised irrespective of their political affiliation or the presidential candidate they support.
They maintained that they will support political parties whose leadership emanates from the region as custodians of the long term security of the people and their interests in future governments.
The leaders declared that their engagement with any presidential candidate will be on the basis of security of life and property, equitable representation, a fair share of resources to Mt Kenya counties commensurate with their voting strength and long term deliberate investment in agricultural products — coffee, tea, milk, rice, horticulture, miraa and green grams.
The politicians further said that sharing of positions in the Executive, Legislature, Cabinet, State corporations and the ambassadorial posts must reflect the voting strength of Mt Kenya.
All parties committed to ensuring they front credible and strong candidates to boost their bargaining power in national affairs and strongly represent the region’s interests.
The politicians said an expanded team of 100 leaders from the region will meet in Naivasha next week to consider, amend and adopt the 6-point plan and lay out their implementation strategy.
The talks are a build-up to three meetings in Nairobi and Thika.
Ruto has already indicated that he will pick a running mate from the region after a meeting with 47 MPs at Aberdare Prestige & Royal Cottages in Nanyuki two weeks ago.
Though Raila has not publicly declared his candidature for the presidency, he has made forays in Mt Kenya and hosted several delegations. Earlier, he was seen to be warning up to former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth who has accompanied him to various engagements in Central and Nyanza.
Similarly, insiders also hinted at a possible joint ticket with either Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya or Laikipia Governor Nderitu Muriithi.
Mudavadi and Kalonzo have lately intensified meetings with governors from Mt Kenya. This year alone, Raila has visited Mt Kenya six times and held meetings in Murang’a, Kiambu and Nyeri counties and picked Nakuru — which politically identifies with the mountain — to launch his Azimio la Umoja initiative.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has on two occasions hosted Raila and One Kenya Alliance (OKA) principals Mudavadi, Kalonzo, Kanu chair Gideon Moi and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula, in a bid to convince them to back Raila.
Sources said that there is a push by those in government to have Peter Munya be Raila’s running mate while some insist that Kalonzo, Kenneth or Kirinyaga governor Anne Waiguru are the best bet.
Among Ruto allies that have been widely mentioned as likely running mates include Kiunjuri, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.
Kuria and Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua are also said to be angling to be DP’s running mate in the 2022 presidential race.
Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro said whoever will become Ruto’s running mate must earn it and not expect to be given as a token.
“The position of the running mate is secondary now, in fact, we have the presidency but it is the most neglected region, so we must be busy talking about the economy. We will spend little time discussing the running mate at the tail end of the issues,” said Nyoro.
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