RIGOROUS INTERVIEWS

Mt Kenya team to vet Raila, Ruto before signing pre-poll pact

Unity forum says presidential aspirants will have to explain their agenda for the region and commit to binding agreements.

In Summary
  • A schedule for public engagements with residents will be released to collect public views to anchor the region’s demands. 
  • The forum is likely to contract a reputable poll firm to conduct independent research on aspirants’ popularity and preferences in Mt Kenya. 

The Service Party leader Mwangi Kiunjuri flanked by leaders from Mt Kenya region address the press at Lake Naivasha Resort at the end of their one-day retreat. The leaders vowed that they would not disband their parties as they sought a presidential candidate to back come 2022.
The Service Party leader Mwangi Kiunjuri flanked by leaders from Mt Kenya region address the press at Lake Naivasha Resort at the end of their one-day retreat. The leaders vowed that they would not disband their parties as they sought a presidential candidate to back come 2022.

Presidential aspirants will have to sign political and economic MoUs with the Mt Kenya region.

The Star has established that Mt Kenya big guns are pushing for a rigorous process to identify their preferred 2022 presidential candidate.

Under the plan spearheaded by the Mt Kenya Unity Forum, each of the leading hopefuls will have to explain how he will meet the region's needs and realise its aspirations.

It is only after the engagements, which will include roundtable talks, that the forum will announce its best bet for the presidency.

The forum will in a fortnight unveil a framework that will anchor political and economic talks with Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga as the 2022 campaigns take shape.

The talks will also focus on the running mate position. It is almost a given that the region will produce the second in command.

On Tuesday, a senior member of the MKUF told the Star that a major meeting would be convened in the next two weeks to unveil the terms of engagement ahead of the round-table talks. 

“A major announcement will be made in 14 days after we are done with the homework agreed amongst us yesterday (Monday),” the politician told the Star. 

The Star has learnt that the meeting will be held on October 4 to roll out an elaborate programme as the region searches for the best suitor that will cater for its interests after the 2022 polls. 

It also emerged that the new role of Narc Kenya boss Martha Karua as the MKUF spokesperson could jolt presidential aspirants' Mt Kenya plans. 

The Star has established that the MKUF is planning to establish a fully-fledged secretariat to offer technical support to the political leaders driving the negotiations to get the best for the region. 

There are reports that after the adoption of the framework, a schedule for public engagements with Mt Kenya residents will be released to collect public views to anchor the region’s demands. 

Once the views are validated, presidential aspirants will be invited for elaborate discussions with the MKUF leadership to agree on agenda items fronted by the region. 

The team is expected to have presidential candidates sign charters of commitment on how they will address specific areas identified in the four issues as part of its 2202 political bargains. 

The forum is likely to contract a reputable poll firm to conduct independent research on aspirants’ popularity and preferences in Mt Kenya. 

“We are looking at the way the ground is and how our people would react to the unity efforts we are spearheading. So far we are happy that the reception is good, especially from the people who are silent,” the politician said. 

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria told the Star that the 2022 presidential aspirants should no longer take the people of Mt Kenya for granted as they plan for the next general election. 

“We will have each of the presidential aspirants go through an open interview. Everyone will have to sit down for a grilling session; the one who offers the region the best deal [will get our support],” Kuria said. 

During the meeting held in Naivasha on Monday, at least four priority areas were unveiled as the team said they would want the commitment of presidential aspirants. They included the contentious revenue-sharing formula and fair representation. 

Karua, a former Justice minister and Narc Kenya party leader, was picked to lead the team in negotiations with presidential aspirants eyeing the vote bloc. 

“We are working on a blueprint, which has identified areas that we feel should be addressed in Mt Kenya and shall soon be sharing it with various candidates,” she said. 

It is not clear if the forum would be able to bring Ruto to the negotiating table given that he has already unveiled an economic agenda for the Mt Kenya region as part of his bottom-up model. 

The DP, who is walking a tightrope to succeed President Uhuru, especially after a bitter falling-out in government, met MPs allied to his Tangatanga faction early this month and agreed on the region’s blueprint. 

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua said the region’s economic blueprint under the hustler nation has already been agreed on. 

“We met as leaders and after lengthy deliberations came up with the Mt Kenya economic blueprint. That is the document we have committed ourselves to and which our presidential candidate will address,” he said. 

As the Mt Kenya Unity Forum crafts its roadmap to negotiations with presidential candidates, the elevation of Karua is likely to complicate the deliberations. 

Karua's new role as the spokesperson of the forum would thrust her into the 2022 succession matrix as the de facto Mt Kenya leader and Uhuru’s possible heir. 

Besides being the lead negotiator, Karua is being seen as a possible presidential running mate, further jolting plans by heavyweights from Mt Kenya angling for the post. 

It is a given that Ruto and Raila will pick a running mate from the President’s backyard in a bid to appease the vote-rich region. 

Those touted as possible running mates include former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, Gachagua, former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, Agriculture CS Peter Munya and National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi. 

Karua’s role is likely to evoke memories of her major assignment at the 2007 peace table where she built her reputation as a tough, methodical and unyielding negotiator. 

During the 2007 election campaigns and the violence that followed, Karua emerged as the leading voice of President Mwai Kibaki's supporters. 

She accused ODM of "ethnic cleansing" in the aftermath of the election. 

During the bloody early days of January 2008, Karua was accused of being one of the antagonistic hardliners who drove their political movements into almost daily confrontation.