Meru: It’s Kiraitu, Mwangaza battle as scandals halt Linturi’s bid

Meru: It’s Kiraitu, Mwangaza battle as scandals halt Linturi’s bid

By Correspondent

With the clock fast ticking towards the August 9 General Election, the race for Meru governor’s seat is shaping up to be a contest between incumbent governor Kiraitu Murungi and Independent candidate Kawira Mwangaza.

Mwangaza is the sitting woman representative.

Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) which is considered the party of choice in the region has presented a weak candidate who is haunted by many scandals, Mithika Linturi.

Political pundits aver that Linturi will be lucky to emerge third in the contest.

But already, the rivalry between Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and Kiraitu has split Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party resulting in affiliated parties endorsing different candidates, including those vying as independents.

 Munya and Kiraitu, though members of the coalition that is fronting Raila Odinga for presidency with Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua as running mate, are pulling in different directions as each seeks to become the regional political kingpin.

But the differences have seen some of the leaders allied to Munya endorse Mwangaza, while others have stuck with Kiraitu.

In the Senate contest, Kiraitu’s camp supports Jubilee candidate James Mithika, while Munya’s allies are behind independent candidate Godfrey Mwiti.

The split intensified after Wiper party members in Meru endorsed Meru County Assembly Speaker Joseph Kaberia, who is vying for senator as an independent candidate.

Kaberia has also received backing from ODM party members.

Munya’s allies who include East African Legislative Assembly member Mpuru Aburi, who wants to recapture the Tigania East parliamentary seat, woman representative candidate Gakii Mbui and David Karithi (Tigania West seat hopeful) have endorsed Mwangaza’s bid but the CS has steered clear of naming his preferred candidate for the governor’s seat.

But Munya has been clear he does not support Kiraitu.

“The people of Meru are wise enough to identify a gubernatorial candidate who will bring development. I do not wish to break Azimio rules by endorsing those not in the coalition,” Munya said recently when he issued title deeds in Kiirua.

Kiraitu on his part accuses Munya of failing to unite the Azimio team in Meru despite being the coalition’s Mt Kenya coordinator.

In the governor’s race, Kiraitu is facing Mwangaza and Linturi who is the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) flag bearer.

Linturi named Linda Gakii as his running mate while Kiraitu stuck with Titus Ntochiu.

Mwangaza picked Isaac Mutuma, a Church minister, as her running mate.

Linturi was cleared by IEBC after the High Court sitting in Meru dismissed a suit challenging his credentials saying the matter being a pre-election dispute falls within the jurisdiction of the electoral commission under Article 88(4)(e) of the Constitution.

But while his entry to the hotly contested gubernatorial race was expected to give Kiraitu sleepless nights as tribal politics take shape in the region, pundits say he stands no chance of dethroning the self declared crocodile of Meru politics due to the scandals dogging him.

At the moment, he is fighting allegations of attempted rape after allegedly sneaking into a couple's hotel room.

In August 2012, a woman sued the lawmaker for abandoning her and their three-year-old son. She claimed they were married in May, 2008 under Meru customary law and she gave birth to the son in 2010.

She said Linturi was a good ‘sponsor’ until sometime in 2011 when he turned ‘cruel, abusive, irresponsible and negligent’.

Also, the University of Nairobi deregistered his law degree which he earned in 2014, after it was discovered the politician presented fake papers when enrolling for the course.

In 2018, his house help was reported to have died under mysterious circumstances.

Edith Kinanu is believed to have died on October 5, 2018.

At the height of his woes was marital problems where his estranged wife Marianne Kitany obtained restraining orders against him.

In December 2018, Kitany accused Linturi of storming the Runda residence and destroying property in the process.

He also faced incitement charges but the prosecution failed to prefer charges against him within the allocated time forcing Nakuru Chief Magistrate Edna Nyaloti to dismiss the miscellaneous application by detectives who had sought to investigate him.

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