- His remarks appeared to be targeted at President Uhuru Kenyatta.
- President has told Jubilee MPs that he will only hand over the baton to a successor who supports his agenda.
Former CS Mwangi Kiunjuri has said the people of Mt Kenya will not accept anyone to force on them a presidential candidate.
Kiunjuri, who on Wednesday unveiled The Service Party, maintained that the region will be free to support a leader who will be ready to address their challenges.
His remarks appeared to be targeted at President Uhuru Kenyatta who on two occasions within one month has told Jubilee MPs that he will only hand over the baton to a successor who supports his agenda.
Uhuru’s statements have been interpreted to mean that he cannot guarantee support for Deputy President William Ruto amid a bitter fallout in the ruling party.
Kiunjuri, a key ally of the DP and who Uhuru fired from the Cabinet in January, said Mt Kenya must be free to back whoever they want.
“No one should choose for us the friends we can work with and on our part we will also not choose for them the friends they can associate with. Just like any other region, Mt Kenya is looking for a leader who has a track record of development and who is willing to address our problems,” he said.
Kiunjuri said he was still friends with the President and the DP. However he appeared to express fears that with the launch TSP, he was likely to be subjected to state intimidation and harassment.
“We are fully aware that this journey will not be smooth. There will be barriers and obstacles and possibly even harassment to break our resolve,” he said.
“We want to assure our supporters that the freedoms of expression,association and assembly are not only enshrined in the Kenyan Constitution but are the birthrights for all of us to enjoy. We should enjoy them without intimidation.”
Kiunjuri said he had nothing to fear since he was arrested more than 17 times during Kanu regime.
In what appears to be a strategy to open doors for his party for a possible coalition with Ruto’s wing ahead of 2022, Kiunjuri said his TPS would not be in the presidential ballot.
“We will not be fielding a presidential candidate in 2022 but our party will be welcoming leaders and members who refuse to accept that impactful politics in Kenya is a reserve of the big parties,” he said.
In the run-up to the 2013 general election Uhuru and Ruto agreed to form a coalition which gave them victory.
URP had strong support in Rift Valley region and pastoralist communities while TNA had strong suppor tbase in the larger Mt Kenya region and Nairobi.
With clear indications that the fortunes of the ruling party are dwindling and could be a shell by 2022, Kiunjuri wants to position TSP as a Mt Kenya party which he will use to bargain for a coalition with other parties.
“TSP has a bright future. We will rally all the leaders from the region to speak in one voice for the sake of the interests of the community. In the coming days I will be reaching out to leaders from all the counties in Mt Kenya so that we take one position about the direction we want to take in the days to come,” Kiunjuri said.
In readiness for coalition building, the former minister will in August roll out an extensive nationwide tour to market the TPS outfit which he says will serve the people.
“I will not be running for any elective seat. That should be clear but I will be ready to serve in any position including even being the chairman of the party as long as we are able to change the lives of Kenyans,” he said.
Kiunjuri said he will never again accept his party to be folded up like it happened to his GNU that was among the parties that merged to former Jubilee.
“TSP is here to stay with us. We will never again go the direction we took last time. We have learnt a lesson. GNU was put in a fridge and it was locked and the person who has the key is said to be away until after 2022. So this new home is spacious enough for all Kenyans irrespective of tribe or religion or economic status,” he said.
Edited by Henry Makori