In Summary
  • The rare meeting will also be closely watched because it comes against the backdrop of tough economic times that some experts say were last seen in the 1980s.
  • Although MPs invited for meeting remained cagey on the agenda, one of the items to be discussed extensively is the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

Accusations of inaccessibility and failing to take charge of his Mt Kenya political turf where he is regarded as the kingpin are said to have forced President Kenyatta to call for a regional leaders’ meeting in Nyeri today.

The President has been slowly losing the political support of Mt Kenya leaders and their constituents to Deputy President William Ruto, who has focused on building loyalty and followers in the region.

While the meeting targets leaders from the region, the timing is significant, coming as it does after a bruising contest in the Kibra by-election that deepened the chasm in the Jubilee coalition with one side allied to Mr Ruto fronting footballer McDonald Mariga, and the other led by nominated MP Maina Kamanda supporting ODM’s Bernard Otieno Okoth alias Imran, who won.

The bitter fallout also saw the DP’s lieutenants pile blame on Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and his Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, who are the President’s confidantes.

The attack on the two leaders by Ruto men was seen as an affront on the President, which triggered some Jubilee leaders to call for the DP’s resignation.

HURTING BUSINESSES

The rare meeting will also be closely watched because it comes against the backdrop of tough economic times that some experts say were last seen in the 1980s.

And while the whole country is feeling the effect, Central and Nairobi regions, which are the business heartbeat of the nation, have been worst hit.

There have been complaints over closure of businesses due to hard economic times and failure by national and county governments to pay suppliers billions of shillings.

Politicians murmur that the President has neglected key sectors — coffee, tea and milk — that form the backbone of the vote-rich region.

Business tycoons have complained of punitive and restrictive policies that have hampered their growth.

The meeting also follows a battle to succeed President Kenyatta as Mt Kenya political kingpin when his term as president expires in 2022.

Unlike in previous successions, there is no clear successor this time round, a factor that is increasingly causing discomfort and a feeling of political vulnerability.

STAKEHOLDERS

A string of political setbacks has also taken a heavy toll on the region’s collective psyche, fostering a deep sense of siege, which has seen cracks within the region’s leadership in the form of Jubilee Party’s Kieleweke and Tangatanga factions and women lobbies of Embrace and Inua Mama.

But the Nation on Thursday gathered that leaders from as far as Nakuru, Kajiado and Trans Nzoia counties in the Rift Valley could also attend the meeting at Sagana State Lodge.

The region includes Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Nyandarua, Laikipia, Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Embu counties. County commissioners and their deputies invited the guests.

They include elected and nominated politicians, poll losers, religious leaders, businessmen, elders, influential Kikuyu radio stations presenters, and opinion shapers from the grassroots.

The two regions voted overwhelmingly for President Kenyatta in the 2013 and 2017 elections, but leaders from the two areas have, in the recent past, claimed they have been marginalised as a result of the peace deal between the Head of State and Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

It is these political developments that have laid bare the dilemma the President is in as far as Central Kenya is concerned, as he tries to balance competing interests.

BBI PROJECT

A direct warning by the Head of State to Mt Kenya MPs against the ‘handshake’ in June, some of whom he will meet on Saturday, revealed the difficult position he finds himself in.

The ground in Central Kenya started shifting after the 2017 Jubilee Party primaries, which the DP managed and supervised.

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