Mwangi Kiunjuri's star now hurtling down on Laikipia East - Beaking Kenya News

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Friday, 28 January 2022

Mwangi Kiunjuri's star now hurtling down on Laikipia East


Barely five years ago, former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri sat at the right-hand side of power.

Less than two years ago, his political star was still shining, touted as a potential Mt Kenya kingpin eyeing the position of Deputy President. 

But things have changed and his political career seems to be on a downward trajectory. He has finally settled on contesting the Laikipia East parliamentary seat that he held for 15 years.

When Mr Kiunjuri was Cabinet secretary in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration, residents of Laikipia – especially in Nanyuki – would notice he was within town.

Some residents referred to him as Kiunjuri wa kibiririki (Kiunjuri wa helicopter). He would hop from one public function to another across the vast landscape of Laikipia County.

Only the selected who’s who would appear in the lineup to usher him in as he stepped out of the chopper, ready to chief-guest an event.

Mr Kiunjuri was a powerful Devolution and Agriculture minister, until President Kenyatta axed him from the government on January 14, 2020.

Immediately after his sacking, Mr Kiunjuri was quick to respond, saying he would remain active in politics.

Bitter fallout with Uhuru

The falling-out was bitter and was chalked up to his constant politicking against the President’s directive.

“With my experience spanning over 25 years, I have a lot to offer. I would continue to serve this country faithfully in other capacities. Make no mistake, I am not going anywhere. I will be with you around,” he said the same day he was fired.

But when did Mr Kiunjuri’s political star start shining? In 1997, he was a matatu tout in Nanyuki, aged 27, when he threw his hat in the Laikipia East parliamentary race. He clinched the seat via the Democratic Party (DP).

His star rose steadily when he was re-elected twice, on a Narc and a PNU ticket, respectively.

In 2012, Mr Kiunjuri, when he was public works assistant minister, formed the Grand National Union (GNU) party as its leader, while the late Nderitu Gachagua was its secretary-general.

GNU, just like TNA, PNU and the Alliance Party of Kenya, supported Mr Kenyatta (then a deputy prime minister) to clinch the presidency in the 2013 General Election.

He joined the Laikipia governor’s race on GNU and faced Laikipia West MP Ndiritu Muriithi, who was also Industrialisation assistant minister and was vying on the ticket of the United Democratic Forum (UDF) party, then led by Musalia Mudavadi.

Mr Kiunjuri and Mr Muriithi were trounced by TNA’s Joshua Irungu.

Mwangi Kiunjuri

 The Service Party (TSP) leader Mwangi Kiunjuri during the interview with the Nation at his office in Nairobi, on January 6, 2022.

Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

In 2016, GNU merged with several other parties to form Jubilee so as to support President Kenyatta’s re-election bid ahead of the 2017 polls.

In the run-up to those elections, Mr Kiunjuri was for the second time eyeing the Laikipia’s governor’s seat but shelved his ambitions on the advice of Mr Kenyatta in favour of Mr Irungu’s re-election bid.

On February 16, 2020, Mr Kiunjuri accused the President of kicking him out of the Cabinet despite his input in supporting Jubilee in the 2017 General Election.

Mr Kiunjuri also accused the Head of State of short-changing him even after he agreed to fold the GNU party and support President Kenyatta’s re-election bid.

“I had GNU party but I was told to wrap it up and join Jubilee as a partner. Now, it is like telling someone travelling to Nairobi to leave their boda boda and board your new Prado. But upon reaching Karatina, you are harshly kicked out while it is raining,” he charged.

“I had expressed interest in vying for the Laikipia gubernatorial seat but I was told to drop my bid in broad daylight so as to be offered a plum job in government.”

Since then, Mr Kiunjuri has been channelling his efforts towards popularising his outfit – The Service Party (TSP) – ahead of the August 9 elections.

Reclaim parliamentary seat

He had been poised to be handpicked as Deputy President William Ruto’s potential running mate.

But since that was not forthcoming, he has now started a spirited campaign to reclaim the parliamentary seat he previously held for 15 years.

The seasoned politician has resolved to face young turks in the political arena.

Laikipia Woman Representative Catherine Waruguru, incumbent MP Amin Deddy Mohamed and former MP Mutahi Kimaru will battle it out for the UDA party ticket before facing Mr Kiunjuri.

“I am vying for the Laikipia East parliamentary seat so that I can represent my people at the country’s top decision table. My track record is still visible during my 15 years’ tenure,” Mr Kiunjuri said last Sunday.

He appealed to residents to vote for Dr Ruto in the next polls.

“If I clinch this seat and Dr Ruto opts to appoint me to represent my people at a top level, I will have to resign, similar to what CS Charles Keter and Joseph Nkaissery did,” Mr Kiunjuri told residents in Matanya village, Laikipia East, during a football tournament funded by TSP.

“Even as I urge you to vote for my friend William Ruto, kindly vote for his firm foot soldiers like Kiunjuri who will help him to run the government,” he added.

His decision has elicited mixed reactions among residents and aspirants, with a majority of them urging him to contest a senior position and leave the MP seat’s for up-and-coming politicians.

Other contestants eyeing the seat include Mr David Njoroge, Mr Michael Waigwa and Mr Anthony Rukwaro.    BY DAILY NATION    

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