With less than five months to the 2022 general elections, the Meru Gubernatorial race is already taking shape, one that is expected to be hotly contested.
Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi and his predecessor Peter Munya have been at loggerheads for the longest time, as each camp toured their strongholds in readiness for the 2022 campaigns.
However, in what appears to be a significant re-shaping of the race, Agriculture CS Peter Munya has declared his exit from the race.
According to Munya, President Uhuru Kenyatta asked him to shelve his gubernatorial ambitions and stay at the helm of the Agriculture ministry to finish programmes that would benefit farmers.
In 2017, it was a two-horse race and the Jubilee wave worked in favor of Governor Kiraitu Murungi. Initially, the 2022 battle appeared to be between the incumbent Kiraitu Murungi and Meru Women Rep Kawira Mwangaza.
However, the entry of Meru Senator Mithika Linturi, who is contesting on a UDA Party ticket, makes it a different kind of race from the 2013 and 2017 races.
And with Kiraitu Murungi’s recent decision to join the Azimio la Umoja Coalition, the next Meru Governor will obviously be decided by a few factors, and the inclination towards Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja and William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza political outfits is a major one.
Always referring to herself as the People’s Governor, Meru Women Representative Kawira Mwangaza will be hoping to cash in on Kiraitu’s failures to clinch the County top seat.
While Kiraitu Murungi will be retaining Titus Ntuchiu as his runningmate, Kawira has opted for Reverend M’Ethingia from Igembe in efforts to capture the Igembe vote.
The vocal legislator and Baite TV media owner has also been recently making moves seeking Peter Munya’s endorsement.
Munya however insists that he can only support a candidate inside the Azimio la Umoja, in efforts to consolidate the Meru vote in favor of ODM leader Raila Odinga. Kawira is yet to declare her preferred political outfit.
Governor Kiraitu Murungi insists that he is ready for a contest with any of his rivals, or any combination. Speaking in an interview on Weru TV, Mr. Murungi said he would be considering wooing more allies from across the County in readiness for the 2022 polls.
In Igembe, Kiraitu will be banking on the support of Munya’s long time allies who have recently decamped to his side, among them Igembe North MP Maoka Maore and former Deputy Governor Muriungi.
The entry of a contestant from Imenti however sends the Governor’s campaign team back to the drawing board, considering that his overwhelming support from Imenti catapulted his 2017 victory.
CS Peter Munya
Having lost to Kiraitu Murungi in 2017, Munya had declared that he would be battling it out with the self declared Meru Political Maestro come 2022. He has however bowed out of the race.
There remains speculations that Munya may be Raila Odinga’s running mate, or hold a key cabinet slot in the next government if ODM leader Raila Odinga finally ascends to power.
His political moves remain a concern in Kiraitu’s camp, with efforts to convince the vocal CS to declare his support for Mr. Murungi.
Munya’s brigade however insists that such a declaration must be accompanied by a commitment by Governor Kiraitu to a power sharing deal.
The latest entrant to the race is Senator Mithika Linturi, a member of DP Ruto’s UDA brigade who appears to be taking advantage of Governor Kiraitu’s perceived diminishing popularity.
Announcing his candidature at Maili Tatu in Igembe South where he addressed a mammoth crowd, Linturi who was endorsed by eight Members of Parliament from the region, and is expected to give Kiraitu a hard time in his bid to win a second term.
According to DP Ruto, the decision to field a UDA candidate was necessitated by Kiraitu’s move to Azimio la Umoja.
Linturi says he has been oiling up for the seat to oust Kiraitu whom he accuses of poor service delivery and corruption in his government.
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