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Mt Kenya politicians jostle for kingpin tag ahead of 2022 poll

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By KENNEDY KIMANTHI

By MWANGI MUIRURI

The fight is fully on to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta as the Mt Kenya kingpin after 2022, amid much jostling among the region’s politicians.

A Wednesday lunch meeting hosted by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi at a Nairobi hotel, though described as a “political lunch”, had the who-is-who from the region, signalling a plan by big political names in Central Kenya to align their interests with Mr Kenyatta’s 2022 strategy.

In the meeting were Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya, former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth, governors Kiraitu Murungi (Meru), Lee Kinyajui (Nakuru), Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia), Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka-Nithi) and Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kibiru.

On Thursday, the Nation gathered that it was the first of many to come, with an insider saying it was to lay the ground for the region’s political roadmap.

NATIONAL POLITICS

“Everything is about timing and the people will be let in at the right time. The meeting, and others to come, should be a big pointer to events in Mt Kenya politics. Community engagements will remain a potent tool to manipulate national politics,” said a source who attended the meeting.

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Although Mr Murungi said the meeting was to congratulate Mr Kimunya on his latest appointment, the Nation has established that Mt Kenya political deliberations also took centre-stage.

“What makes something political is if the players are political… even if there is a football match being played by politicians, it becomes political…the same principle applies to our lunch, because it was being eaten by politicians,” Mr Murungi said.

The presence of Mr Kenneth, who is not in the government, was also not lost on observers.

The former presidential contender has been slowly earning the support of some MPs in Nairobi and Murang’a County to take up Mt Kenya’s leadership mantle.

Speculation has also been rife that Mr Kenneth, the former Gatanga MP, is poised for bigger things.

Observers say he could be the heir apparent for President Kenyatta’s mantle as the face of Central Kenya politics and thus, a potential running mate in the 2022 General Election.

ASTUTE LEADER

Some say he could also run for the seat. Political analyst Beautah Omanga believes Mr Kenneth is an astute leader who is “tested and proven”.

“He has an impressive track record and is easygoing enough to attract support from Mt Kenya and beyond,” Mr Omanga said.

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“Bear in mind that he is the only unelected leader who attracts the attention of elected leaders. If Uhuru gives him any kind of support, he will easily carry the electorate to whichever side he supports come 2022.”

Already, intense lobbying is underway to have him appointed into the Cabinet in the much-anticipated reshuffle that will include nominees from the President’s new political allies Raila Odinga of ODM, Gideon Moi of Kanu, Isaac Ruto of Chama Cha Mashinani and Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper.

The Building Bridges Initiative has offered a new platform for a political showdown among those seeking to succeed Mr Kenyatta, pitting the current crop of governors against their predecessors, as well as serving MPs and ex-lawmakers still holding sway in the region.

“BBI will do the region a lot of good in anchoring in law sharing out of resources based on population,” said a source who attended the meeting at the Panafric Hotel.

“If population strength will be rewarded with mightier resources, the same be rewarded with higher political stakes.” But as succession politics intensifies in Central, there is a general consensus that it should not compromise the region’s unity.

The ongoing political activities around Mr Kenneth come in the wake of a declaration by Jubilee vice-chairman and the President’s right-hand man David Murathe that Kenyans should not buy into the political lie that Central Kenya cannot produce another candidate in the coming election.

Asked whether Mr Kenneth is one of those likely candidates, he said: “He is ideal, why not him? But first things first: We first pursue development and we shall revisit.”

POWERFUL PREMIER POST

Further, Mr Murathe opines that the BBI holds the key to future math for Gema, saying power must be exercised according to the ratio of votes cast for the government. He said Mt Kenya region has at least eight million votes and one of their own must get power that is commensurate to the numbers.

This has been interpreted to mean the region will be lobbying for the powerful premier post recommended in the BBI preliminary report hence why a lot of interest is being directed at Mr Kenneth.

According to Education Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Zack Kinuthia, it is not Mr Kenneth who is begging to be in government.

Rather, he explains, it is the people from the region who have identified him as the most qualified to partner with the President and represent the interests of the region at the negotiating table.

Last week, Mr Kenneth said he is ready to work with the Jubilee government to help achieve its vision for the country.

He said he would not mind serving in any capacity that will see the President achieve his objectives for the country.

He added that Mt Kenya, being advantaged numerically in the voter register, will be at the negotiating table from a position of strength.

Mr Kenneth, being the party leader of the Kenya National Congress Party (KNC), unsuccessfully vied against Mr Kenyatta in 2013.

Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi said Mt Kenya has had structured way of having a spokesperson in place and those eyeing the position should wait.

Additional reporting by Justus Ochieng’

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Sewage Menace in Pipeline, Residents Cry For Help

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By Milo George

Residents of Pipeline Transami area are decrying poor drainage system that has caused sewage water to overflow in their area of residence.

The residents claim that the overflowing sewage is not only putting their lives at risk but also causing air pollution.

They have called on Nairobi Metropolitan Services and Nairobi City Water and Sewage Company to come on board and expand the sewer lines before more areas are flooded with raw human wastes coming from the blocked pipes.
“We want Major Badi and our leaders to resolve this menace immediately. It’s terrible many have been forced to shift their businesses because of the foul smell,” they said.
Pastor Joe Ndivoh of Word Evangelistic Explosion Ministries says that they have been forced to call off the Sunday School Service to protect the children from the smelly sewage.
‘‘We now fear that if prompt action is not taken then we will have a bigger health problem than this because we fear there could be an outbreak of water-borne disease anytime,’’ Pastor Ndivoh added.


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Solberg Jnr replaces Pierre-Louis for WRC Safari – KBC

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Hyundai Motorsport World Rally Team has made a change to it’s WRC2 team for Safari replacing Pierre-Louis Loubet with 19 year old Oliver Solberg.

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The change of crew hands young Solberg an opportunity to resume his family dream on the fabled Safari which was first held from 27 May to 1 June 1953 as the East African Coronation Safari in Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika as a celebration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Solberg Senior finished the WRC Safari 5th on the 1999 and 2000 editions driving a Ford Focus and navigated by his eventual Championship- winning navigator Phil Mills. In 200 and 2002, Petter retired on Safari after he lost a wheel and suffering engine gremlins on both occasions.

Oliver was forced to withdraw from last week’s Rally Italia Sardegna after his father, 2003 WRC champion Petter Solberg, tested positive for coronavirus.

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Oliver was gearing up for his second top flight World Rally Championship outing with Hyundai at last weekend’s s Italian event.

However having been in contact with his father, Oliver was compelled to remain in quarantine in a hotel in Porto for 14 days as per the FIA Appendix S regulations.

The FIA’s Appendix S COVID-19 protocol and national government regulations offer clear quarantine instructions for those in close contact.

“You can imagine, I am more than disappointed by this news. I am a little bit devastated,” The 19-year-old Solberg told www.motorsport.com last week.

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WRC Safari Rally Event Secretary Helen Shiri confirmed Oliver’s Safari participation saying: “Hyundai WRC 2 team car number 7 has changed the crew from Driver Pierre-Lous and co-driver Florian Haut-labourdette both from France to Oliver Solberg (Swedish) and  Co-driver Aaron Johnston (Ireland). The car, a Hyundai i20 Coupé, remains intact.”

Meanwhile, it’s been a meteoric rise for the son of world champion Petter.

Less than two years after his maiden rally in a four-wheel drive car, the teenage sensation was competing at the WRC’s top level.

Aged just 17, Oliver became the youngest winner of a European Championship rally in 2019.

With a father and a mother from a well-known Swedish motorsport family and a former Production WRC competitor in her own right, there was a sense of inevitability that a career at the wheel was inevitable for Oliver Solberg. 

Solberg’s early years were spent racing in crosskarts.

In 2012 he won the Norwegian Championship before a step up to a higher class brought consecutive title wins in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

In 2019 Solberg stepped into R5 machinery, driving a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 in the Latvian/Estonian/Baltic Rally Championship. He took to the increased power immediately and racked up five class wins on his way to the championship title.

He also followed in his father’s footsteps to join Subaru Motorsports USA. He drove a latest-spec Impreza STI, winning three of the six rounds

After making his WRC debut at the 2019 Rally GB, Solberg stepped into a full WRC campaign in 2020, driving his own Polo R5 alongside a partial campaign with Skoda Motorsport.

The WRC returns to Africa for the first time since 2002. The Safari of old has evolved to fit the modern-day WRC, but its character remains with challenging closed dirt roads, stunning picture-postcard scenery and exotic wildlife.

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Three more suspected robbers arrested along Southern by-pass – KBC

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Three more suspects have been arrested in connection with the recent spate of robberies targeting motorists along the Southern by-pass.

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The three were arrested in Kibra by detectives based in Langata.

Their arrest follows a detailed analysis and investigations of the robberies, with detectives employing cyber and forensic analysis techniques to identify the beneficiaries of the crimes.

Boniface Winjira Unganyi, the proprietor of Basement Crew mobile shop within Lindi in Kibra, was arrested as the key suspect after a total of 102 mobile phones suspected to have been stolen from victims were recovered from his shop.

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Also arrested were 35-year-old Alex Mboya, who was found in possession of a victim’s phone, and a 16-year-old minor, studying at a secondary school in Langata.

Five other suspects have been arraigned in recent weeks in connection with the violent robberies.

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