UNITY QUEST

Mt Kenya tycoons seek to influence politics beyond Uhuru backyard

Team of influential business leaders set to meet Maasai, Ukambani leaders

In Summary

•MKF says to engage more communities in the "quest to unite Kenyans".

•Meeting with Maa leaders was postponed following State House meeting.

ODM leader Raila Odinga joins dance with Mt Kenya Foundation business and professional elites led by chairman Peter Munga, Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia and Mohoho Kenyatta at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi, on September 28.
TYCOONS: ODM leader Raila Odinga joins dance with Mt Kenya Foundation business and professional elites led by chairman Peter Munga, Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia and Mohoho Kenyatta at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi, on September 28.
Image: DOUGLAS OKIDDY

Tycoons from Mt Kenya are seeking to spread their tentacles to influence the country’s politics beyond President Uhuru Kenyatta’s backyard.

The Mt Kenya Foundation has now trained its eyes on wooing other communities to back ODM leader Raila Odinga's presidential bid.

The business leaders were due to meet Maa community leaders on Thursday but the conference was postponed.

A notice issued on Wednesday said the Mt Kenya Foundation leadership was to discuss issues of correlative interest with the Maa community.

“During the function, the people of Mt Kenya and the people from the Maa community will discuss issues of mutual interest," the press notice by MKF communications director Joe Murimi read.

Among the issues that were to feature in the meeting was the region’s (Maa) support for the Azimio la Umoja movement.

“We regret to inform you that the luncheon has been postponed to a later date due to an urgent national engagement,” the cancellation notice read.

The Star has established the tycoons are set to meet with a delegation from South Eastern – Ukambani for similar talks.

“We shall meet South Eastern - Ukambani community and many others as we seek to unite all Kenyans and preach peace and peaceful co-existence,” the officer said.

Murimi said the luncheon with the Maa leaders was postponed because of the leaders meeting with President Kenyatta at State House on Thursday.

If held, it would be the group's fourth meeting with key figures in the President Kenyatta succession battle.

MKF held similar sessions with Raila, whom they endorsed in December as their preferred Uhuru successor.

The influential businessmen have also met with One Kenya Alliance leaders Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Gideon Moi (Kanu), and Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) over Uhuru succession.

The engagement with the Maa community follows in the wake of the foundation forging a working partnership with leaders leaning towards Raila from Northeastern.

Former National Assembly Speaker Francis Ole Kaparo said they expected the meeting to be planned for a later date, having been informed on why the one slated for Thursday was postponed.

He said they expect to come to an agreement with the team and move together as like-minded people as the country goes to the vote.

“We expect to discuss how we can do peaceful elections and put in place a leader we think has the best interest of Kenyans at heart,” Kaparo said.

“Our aim is to ensure that Kenyans live together as one community other than having multiple ethnic groups.”

“We are keen on bringing communities together and put in place a leadership that speaks what it means,” he added.

Kaparo added that once they reach an agreement, they will rally other Kenyans – not just the Maa, to board the Azimio train.

In their deal with Raila, the Foundation sought that should the ODM leader form government, he need to prioritise resettling internally displaced persons.

They also asked the former Prime Minister to tackle economic challenges across the country and carry on with President Kenyatta’s legacy of development.

“Being an industrious people, our economy-related issues are complex, and cannot be reduced to a mere slogan, catchy phrases or handouts.”

“Our region requires a coherent and comprehensive plan to recast and address our development and economic needs,” MKF said in the memo to the Azimio chief.

The group says they were tasked by President Kenyatta to find a suitable successor who will continue with the Head of State’s legacy when he  retires in August.

Political pundits hold that the group’s affiliation stands to significantly impact the direction Mt Kenya would take in the August vote.

Deputy President William Ruto hit out at the group accusing them of forcing Raila’s candidacy down the throats of Kenyans, especially in Mt Kenya where it is argued they are a force to reckon.

The DP downplayed the machinations by the team saying they will not succeed and asked his backers to reject such moves.

“They are sitting in Nairobi planning to choose for us a president and want to bring their stooge to protect their wealth. Isn’t that contempt?”

“We cannot accept that some few people sit and decide for us who to vote for President. Will they not very soon come asking for our wives so they bear children for us?” Ruto asked.