A group of Mt Kenya Politicians has resolved to open formal negotiations with Deputy President William Ruto in exchange for their political support.
The group made up of MPs has insisted that Ruto must negotiate with the region and give clear commitments before seeking support for his presidential bid.
The MPs who have been seen to be allied to Ruto say that it was time that political negotiations come after economic and development issues have been ironed out with their preferred presidential candidate.
In what appears to be a change of tact, 62 legislators, drawn from 11 counties in the region, on Saturday met at the Nairobi home of Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua for six hours and agreed on the plan.
The negotiations, according to sources in the meeting, will be divided into two parts and are expected to start as soon as they secure an audience with Ruto in the coming days.
One source said that part one is “largely cast in stone, and we intend to be very firm on it. If we do not agree on part one, there will be no need to go to stage two.”
The Star learnt that part one is the ‘Economic Agenda’ of the 11 counties, where they will ask Ruto to give a concrete plan for the region’s economic development.
If the negotiations have an agreed plan for part one, they will then engage the DP on political issues, including positions the region should get in the next Government.
One of Ruto’s key Mt Kenya ally, Mwangi Kiunjuri, has been insisting Mt Kenya was bound to lose out if it did not unite and raise its stakes ahead of 2022.
“You cannot go to a council of elders gathered around a fire without your own firewood. Who will sit on our behalf when people get to the negotiating table?” Kiunjuri said in a previous interview.
The MPs now appear to be taking this cue as a way to ensure that the region is well represented in the 2022 negotiations.
The group meeting on Saturday, 48 physically and 14 virtually, agreed to set up two committees with representatives from each county to steer the negotiations.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, Dagorreti MP John Kiarie, Manyatta MP John Muchiri and Ndia MP George Kariuki will form the economic revival committee that will lead the ‘Economic Agenda’ negotiations for the region.
They are expected to co-opt an economics professional from each region, a ‘hustler’ from eleven sectors spread across the region and businesspeople.
An expanded 11 member committee was also formed to lead collection of views from ‘hustlers’, businesspeople, religious groups and professionals ahead of eleven major meetings in the region to endorse the position paper developed by the economic revival committee.
The other committee will lead the overall negotiations at the initial stage and after the economic revival committee has made tangible progress on the matter.
Meru Senator Mithika Linturi, Tharaka-Nithi Woman Representative Beatrice Nkatha, her Kirinyaga counterpart Purity Ngirichi, Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, Nyandarua Woman Representative Faith Gitau, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa, Nominated MP Cecily Mbarire, Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, Embakasi North MP John Gakuya and Laikipia Senator John Kinyua will lead the plan.
Gachagua who hosted the meeting confirmed the plans, saying that “we hope to conclude the negotiations by September this year.”
“We have very good brains in the region and serious ideas. Our economic team is very strong and has some of the most solid leaders who understand how to package the views of our people into a coherent, reasonable and beneficial economic revival plan,” Gachagua told the Star.
Contacted, Ndindi Nyoro said: “All I can tell you is that it is true we will change the model of political negotiations in Kenya; it will no longer be gentlemen pacts between politicians. This time hustlers, the business community and professionals will be brought on board. We will negotiate in broad daylight and agree in the open.”
Ichung’wa agreed with Nyoro’s sentiments, saying that they are seeking a clear time-bound development agenda from Ruto.
“The days of political deceit are over. We want our preferred presidential candidate to sign up on issues, a specific, time-bound development marshall plan, so that it is not about politicians but the people of Kenya,” he said.
Nyandarua Woman Representative Faith Gitau also confirmed attending the meeting.
“We have done enough meetings to sip tea. It is now time to get our people on the table, to say what they want and by when and to agree on those timelines directly with the Presidential candidate,” Gitau said.
Nominated MP Cecily Mbarire on her part told the Star; “It is urgent… we will negotiate a very good package. Mt.Kenya will be proud of its leaders.”
Mt Kenya leaders are lobbying for former Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri to be Ruto’s running mate in next year’s presidential race.
The Star has learnt that in the last three weeks, a caucus of members of the National Assembly, Senate and influential grassroots leaders have been meeting to strategise on how to rally other leaders and residents of the larger Mt Kenya region to back Kiunjuri, leader of the Service Party.
The strategy meetings have taken place in Nairobi, Nyeri and Kiunjuri’s home county of Laikipia.
The DP who is keen to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta in the August 2022 election is shopping for a running mate with his possible picks being individuals from the Western and Mt Kenya regions.
Others positioning themselves for DP’s running mate are Tharaka Nithi Senator Kindiki Kithure, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and the new entrant – outgoing Kakamega Governor Wycliff e Oparanya.
Laikipia Senator John Kinyua said Kiunjuri is politically experienced and widely acceptable across the larger Mt Kenya. Speaking to the Star on phone last Tuesday, Kinyua said the leaders from Laikipia have endorsed the ex-CS.
Edited by Henry Makori