President Uhuru Kenyatta will today come face-to-face with rebel leaders allied to his deputy William Ruto in a Mt Kenya only meeting as he fights to rally the region behind the handshake.
Uhuru’s Jubilee Party is in turmoil and the President has been unable to make public the Building Bridges Initiative report three weeks after it was completed.
Worse, Ruto and his allies are threatening to shoot it down unless ODM leader Raila Odinga “renounces and apologises” over the violence that marred the Kibra parliamentary by-election.
A section of Mt Kenya leaders have also vowed to reject a parliamentary system of government should it be proposed by the BBI task force, putting the President in a tight spot.
The Star has established that today’s meeting, perhaps the biggest in Central Kenya since Kenyatta rode to power for a second term in 2017, will bring together all elected leaders from a record nine counties.
There will also be at least 19 opinion leaders per subcounty.
The counties are five from Central – Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Nyeri, Nyandarua – and three from upper Eastern – Embu, Meru and Tharaka-Nithi.
Other leaders will be drawn from the Kikuyu dominated counties in the Rift Valley – Laikipia and Nakuru, often referred in political circles as the “diaspora”.
During the visit, the President is expected to tour the traditional Kiambuthia shrine in Kieni East for prayers.
It remains unclear how Uhuru will deal with the pro-Ruto brigade who are unlikely to change their stance against the BBI.
In June, a furious Uhuru vowed to “crush” his detractors trying to derail his unity and progress agenda.
“Let them not think they can threaten me. I will flush them out from wherever they are ….wait and see,” the President pledged, signalling a battle against Tangatanga MPs in his Central backyard.
While State House was by last evening yet to confirm whether the President will be present, Central leaders said they had indeed been invited to the meeting.
Among those who confirmed are Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga and his Kirinyaga counterpart Anne Waiguru.
Waiguru described the meeting with Mt Kenya leaders as “welcome and long overdue.”
“I expect the President will take stock of his development legacy and seek to address any development challenges being faced by the region. This would include coffee and tea prices and infrastructure development,” the governor told the Star.
She went on: “I also anticipate that he will use this opportunity to seek support for the handshake and the BBI by assuring the leaders that their concerns about representation and allocation of resources, taking cognizance of our population, have been adequately addressed. Finally, I anticipate he will address matters of gender equality in the BBI.”
The meeting is likely to expose the political divisions that have for the first time rocked the “House of Mumbi” and threatened to scuttle Uhuru’s legacy.
On the one hand are MPs allied to Ruto under Tangatanga and, on the other, legislators allied to Kielweke pushing for a political deal between ODM leader Raila Odinga and Mt Kenya.
Uhuru’s Central backyard is divided ,with political realignments taking shape ahead of 2022 presidential polls.
Leaders that have strongly stood with Ruto despite what is said to be a state onslaught include governors Ferdinard Waititu (Kiambu), Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri) MPs Rigathi Gachagua (Mathira), Anthony Kiai (Mukurwe-ini ), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu), Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Jonah Mburu (Lari), Githua Wamacukuru (Kabete) and Alice Wahome (Kandara).
Others are Faith Gitau (Nyandarua Woman Representative), Wangui Ngirici (Kirinyaga) and Catherine Waruguru (Laikipia).
The pro-Uhuru and Raila politicians are Ngunjiri Wambugu (Nyeri Town), Ann Waiguru (Kirinyaga governor), Gathoni Muchomba (Kiambu Woman Rep) and Paul Koinange (Kiambaa).
Other Central MPs are silent on a wait-and-see mode.