Kenya: Wa Iria Warms Up to Opposition Chiefs Ahead of 2022 Polls

16 October 2019

Murang'a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria has been holding meetings with key opposition figures in what is seen as a bid to join national politics come 2022.

Mr Wa Iria is serving his second and final term as governor.

Last week, he met ODM leader Raila Odinga, Wiper's Kalonzo Musyoka and Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi in Mombasa.

The Murang'a County boss is also a close ally of Deputy President William Ruto and a defender of President Uhuru Kenyatta but is not allied to either the Kieleweke or Tanga Tanga factions of the Jubilee Party that antagonise each other.

WA IRIA'S PARTY

The governor, who has registered a political party known as Civic Renewal Party (CRP), and whose term comes to an end in 2022, seems to be warming up for political alliances in bid to ensure his stay in politics after leaving the private sector in 2013 to vie for the gubernatorial seat.

Mr Wa Iria's meetings with opposition chiefs have been held away from the public limelight, especially in hotels, and away from the glare of the media.

Political pundits say the governor could be preparing for pre-coalition agreements ahead of 2022.

Last week, the governor met with Mr Mudavadi at a hotel in Mombasa with Mr Wa Iria's handlers telling the Nation that the ANC party leader will be touring Murang'a County next month following the meeting.

TALKS WITH KALONZO

In April this year, the governor held a lengthy discussion with Mr Musyoka at a hotel in Thika, while after the burial of former Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso, he met with Mr Odinga.

The governor has chosen to hold his cards close to his chest over the meetings and has maintained that it was normal for the leaders to meet.

"Leaders meet to discuss various issues in the country and there should be no cause for alarm when we meet," he told the Nation.

Asked if the meetings are about the 2022 elections and his strategy after his term expires, Mr Wa Iria said it is too early to think about his next move, maintaining that he will cross the bridge when he gets there.

DELIVER PROMISES

He said he is currently concentrating on delivering his promises to Murang'a people.

But his close allies say that the governor is a key pillar in Mt Kenya region and would surprise those who have continued to place the region in the 2022 campaign mode.

Mr James Mwangi, one of his allies, said the governor cannot be underestimated since he is the only county boss in Mt Kenya region who made a comeback in the stormy 2017 gubernatorial elections.

DEALS

He added that Mr Wa Iria's influence in the region will attract pre-coalition deals with potential presidential contenders.

He said the recent meetings have centred on the Building Bridges Initiative, current affairs and the future of the region and the country at large.

"The governor has been meeting with the leaders to discuss the current affairs and the future of our country, although he has not been shouting from the rooftop about the meetings. He will pull a surprise on those who keep on making noise over the succession debate," said Mr Mwangi.

Mr Mwangi, who is also an official of CRP, said the party will field candidates in gubernatorial, senatorial, National Assembly and county assembly seats in 2022.

But he said they are yet to decide whether the party will field a presidential candidate.

CRP STRONGHOLD

"Mt Kenya region will be a stronghold for CRP. A lot is happening at the grassroots and all are connected to the party leader's moves," Mr Mwangi said.

Governor Wa Iria is also the vice-chairman of the Council of Governors and also Kenya's avocado ambassador, positions he is using to plan for his future in politics.

Other leaders in the region who are engaged in succession battle are Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, and Cabinet secretaries Mwangi Kiunjuri (Agriculture) and Peter Munya (Trade).

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