TNA FACES REVOLT IN CENTRAL
THE historic rivalry between Kiambu and Nyeri counties is threatening the future of The National Alliance party launched last month by Uhuru Kenyatta. So vicious is the fight that politicians and businessmen from Nyeri are now weighing the option of fronting their own presidential candidate against Uhuru.
The Deputy Prime Minister has insisted that his name will be on the presidential ballot on a TNA ticket at the election slated for March 4, 2013. However his trial for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court now appears likely to start in the same month.
MPs from Central region who spoke to the Star revealed that politicians and businessmen from Nyeri who are unhappy with TNA are now reaching out to their counterparts from Murang’a, Kirinyaga and Meru counties to form a united coalition to drive the region’s politics. Nyeri, Kirinyaga and Meru counties are almost unanimous but populous Murang’a is divided. Also leaning towards the new anti TNA alliance are politicians and businessmen from Laikipia and Nakuru counties.
Laikipia and Nakuru are in Rift Valley but most of their inhabitants migrated from Nyeri and Kirinyaga in the late 1970s and early 1980s through land purchase schemes that was being driven by the Gikuyu Embu Meru Association (Gema) Holdings. These are regions that have predominantly supported President Mwai Kibaki since the introduction of multiparty politics in the early 1990s.
The rivalry dates back to the government of first President Jomo Kenyatta when leaders from Kiambu and parts of Murang’a advanced a theory that power will never cross River Chania into Nyeri. Kibaki, who hails from Nyeri, is retiring from politics having served his two five year terms as president. Uhuru, who hails from Kiambu, has emerged as the key presidential hopeful from Mt Kenya region hoping to succeed Kibaki in State House.
Planning assistant minister Peter Kenneth from Murang’a (Kenya National Congress) and Gichugu MP Martha Karua (Narc Kenya) from Kirinyaga county have also said they will stand. The disgruntled leaders are considering backing Kenneth, Karua or possibly Musalia Mudavadi. Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi has been tasked with determining who of these would be the best candidate for Central.
The formation of TNA was apparently driven by some powerful businessmen from Kiambu who objected to the possibility of Uhuru joining the United Democratic Forum or the Alliance Party of Kenya whose architect is Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi.
UDF has since been taken over by Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi. Mudavadi has denied reports that he is quietly being backed by State House as a back-up if Uhuru cannot stand.
MPs, who declined to be named, revealed that some businessmen from Kiambu were uncomfortable with Uhuru joining UDF as it was set up by Kibaki’s private secretary and long term ally Prof Nick Wanjohi and who is from Nyeri.
Temperatures were further raised by the alleged statement last month by Local Government assistant minister Lewis Nguyai that voters from Mt Kenya region would elect dogs if they were TNA rather than leaders from other parties.
“The sentiments confirmed our fears. We have been having suspicions that what they want is they form their own party and force us by hook or crook to abolish our parties and join theirs so that the presidency can return to Kiambu. But we are saying no. We have said we better have our own dog and vote for it,” said a key MP from Central.
“We know these are the same people who argued power will never cross River Chania to Nyeri. It crossed when Kibaki won in 2002 but now they want to return that power to where they claim it belongs,” said another MP.
Speaking to the Star, Nguyai denied any such statement. He said he meant that there was a politician who was defeated during the 1992 elections. When asked why he was defeated, the politician replied that even if a dog would have been elected if it had the Ford Asili ticket during that election. Several MPs from Central are threatening to distribute video tapes of Nguyai's statement at political rallies. Leaders from Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Laikipia and Nakuru counties have already been meeting to decide the way forward.
One meeting was held two weeks ago at Panafric Hotel in Nairobi. Leaders from the Democratic Party, Grand National Union and Alliance Party of Kenya declared that they would not accept being swallowed by TNA.
They accused the TNA of arrogance. The leaders included DP chairman Joseph Munyao, Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi who leads APK and Public Works assistant minister Mwangi Kiunjuri of GNU.
The three parties also signed a pact to work together and declared they would not dissolve to join TNA. “The parties therefore call on others to accord each other respect because we have all complied with the political parties act and are fully registered,” said Siakago MP Lenny Kivuti who read a joint statement.
A previous meeting in Nyeri was attended by Kiunjuri, chairman of Central Kenya Parliamentary group Ephraim Maina and ex-Internal Security minister and former Kieni MP Chris Murungaru. The Nyeri meeting questioned the decision by Uhuru to take over Nginyo Kariuki's National Alliance Party of Kenya and rename it TNA.
Last week, Kiraitu was quoted in the Sunday Nation that he was betrayed by Uhuru who refused to join APK and instead formed TNA. He explained that in September 2011 Uhuru, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and PNU chairman late George Saitoti signed a commitment to joint field a single presidential candidate in the election.
“We were disappointed when Mr Kenyatta settled on TNA. He has been part of efforts to build the Alliance Party, having participated in our meetings in Karen and Diani,” Murungi said.
The Star has also established that parties in Mt Kenya region are afraid of entering a pre-election coalition with TNA for fear that candidates will be imposed on them.
Uhuru has insisted that TNA will not impose any candidate. “TNA will not identify any candidate for any seat. It is the people who should do so. I will vie for presidency on the platform of national unity, national development and equity,” Uhuru said last weekend in Samburu.