African Press International (API)

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New alliance stirs trouble in Kibaki backyard

Posted by African Press International on August 23, 2008

By Gakuu Mathenge

President Kibaki took the chairmans seat at Party of National Unitys meeting on October elections, as a third force in the coalition solidified.

Faced with affiliate parties caught up in a cold war and undecided on which way to go after his term ends, the President chaired the PNU meeting as another fire raged in his vast voting bloc central Kenya.

The region, whose arms ring the gorgeous snow-capped Mt Kenya, is a boiling political pot. It is no longer just about Justice Minister Martha Karua and Deputy Prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta and their Narc-Kenya and Kanu parties.

The centre appears to hold in the rush to post-Kibaki era in the region as the new alliance comprising at least four political parties and two youth movements elbows its way to national attention, with a radical agenda.

Last weekend, Sisi Kwa Sisi, Safina, and Asili Saba Saba teamed up with lobby groups National Youth Alliance and Bunge La Mwananchi to form the Progressive Parties Alliance (Propa).

The alliance is the latest entrant into the central Kenya political scene, which has been simmering with a host of initiatives about the future of the Agikuyu.

So far, those in the public domain include Kikuyus for Change, Intra Ethnic Conversations under the auspices of the Open Society Initiative for East Africa (Osiea), the revived Gema cultural group and the Council of Elders initiative seeking to make Raila Odinga a Kikuyu elder.

However, all the groups, working independently, have found themselves pursuing the same agenda.

They want to find out how the Kikuyu came to attract so much hate which climaxed in the clashes in the Rift Valley from other communities.

The soul searching seems to have concluded that political leaders from the community, right from Jomo Kenyatta to the present, have been responsible for the anti-Kikuyu sentiment.

The view gaining ground among the groups is that the community is being condemned and even ostracised for mistakes of a few.

Today, the Kikuyus for Change will host a convention at the Limuru Conference Centre. A scholar, Karuti Kanyinga, former Kabete MP Paul Muite and immediate former chairman of Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Maina Kiai are expected to deliver position papers on past, present and future leadership of the Agikuyu.

The emergence of this new group coincided with the registration of the Gikuyu, Embu, and Meru Association a once powerful welfare group with massive political clout.

Gema, which was revived in April, has been re-registered as a cultural organisation with Methodist Bishop, Lawi Imathiu, as interim chairman, and former Kimbaa MP Njenga Karume, as patron.

Gema played a critical role in the Kenyatta succession debate in the late 1970s.

The launch of the alliance is the latest addition to a budding third political force in Central Province politics.

This lays the ground for a bruising succession battle between the old guard who dominate Kibakis Government under PNU, and the younger generation of leaders who want to have a say in the succession and the anticipated constitutional review.

During the launch at Ufungamano, the Alliance directed its anger at the regions ruling elite who it said cannot account for their wealth, and should not be in leadership.

New alliance

Since 1963, Kenya has been ruled by rightwing conservatives whose attitude has been bad. Many in this clique at the top did not acquire their wealth from honest hard work. They acquired it by stealing public resources, abuse of office and unfair distribution of opportunities and resources, the group said, in a statement Safina leader Muite, read.

The statement was signed by Sisi Kwa Sisi Secretary General Julius Mwangi, Saba Saba Asili Organising Secretary Joe Kanguchu, Safina organising secretary Joe Korir, spokesman of the National Youth Alliance Njuguna Gitau Njuguna and Students Organisation of Nairobi University (Sonu) chairman, Dan Mwangi.

The Alliance is ideologically progressive and consists of genuine reformers, compassionate capitalists and social democrats. The alliance seeks a sound economic and social management of the country, Muite said, at Ufungamano House.

The group insists their mission is not tribal.

Time has come when ideology, not the tribe, must define where in the political divide a party or an individual belongs. We will fight for constitutional and legal reforms, provide a framework for a more just society, a permanent solution to the land question, resettlement of all internal refugees and do away with imperial presidency, Muite added.

He said the Alliance would embark on drive and public rallies around the country, starting with opening a regional office in Nakuru on September 30.

The sight of Mungiki leader and spokesman of Kenya National Youth Alliance Njuguna Gitau Njuguna sharing a platform with party officials and personalities like Mr Muite was most conspicuous.

A senior politician criticised Muite for giving the Mungiki a political platform, calling it a great mistake.

Njuguna has been in the limelight chastising the police for allegedly executing and persecuting the sect members.

Kenya National Youth Alliance was registered under the NGO Act two years ago.

But its association with Mungiki makes many politicians from the Mt Kenya region want to associate with it only under the cover of darkness.

When asked to comment on the Mungiki connection, Muite said: We must move away from giving a dog a bad name and then hanging it. We do not condone criminal activities by anyone.

We also condemn extra-judicial killings in the name of fighting Mungiki. Our association with these young people is part of our efforts to rehabilitate those who have been marginalised and ostracised.

The former MP added: We cannot wish them away. They are Kenyans. Neither can we have any positive influence on any criminal elements among them by isolating them or ourselves from them.

The immediate former Kikuyu MP said bad economic policies and corruption created economic gaps that result in mushrooming of criminal gangs by those feeling squeezed out.

The alliance, he said, would seek to mobilise Kenyans to force reduction of prices for basic commodities; lobby for anti-poor Government policies; constitutional reforms to ensure a just society; a permanent solution to festering land problems and financial and material support for all internally displaced persons.

Besides opening an office in Nakuru, the Alliance will tour areas affected by post-election violence and address rallies.

Before the new alliance was born, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua broke off from the PNU mainstream, protesting at alleged attempts to impose a Kibaki successor on the party.

Soon after, Grand National Union (GNU), whose leadership comprises Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri and former Mathira MP Nderitu Gachagua, was launched.

Though they are yet to reveal their faces, some business heavyweights are said to be behind GNU.



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