Kenya: Moses Kuria, the Man to Watch in Central Kenya

Nairobi — When Moses Kuria told a radio talk show in 2019, that he would be vying to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta as the fifth President of the Republic of Kenya, many including the talk show host dismissed it as hot air the straight talking politician often engages in.

But Kuria went on to suggest that he will be deputized by Deputy President William Ruto, opposition leader Raila Odinga and two-term Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana.

At that time, Kuria had just posted a flag of Democratic Party (a party that was founded by former President Mwai Kibaki) on his social media pages with a claim that the party would be the choice of Mt. Kenya leaders.

In October 2018, during an interview with Capital FM, the two-time Gatundu South MP said his self-supporting Presidential bid would address among other things, eradication of poverty and the long standing challenge of tribalism.

"I know my stuff and I do not believe in losing. I am very poor at that," Kuria told Capital FM

His intention to vie on the DP ticket, was dealt a blow after the party's National Chairman Esau Kioni declared that Kuria would have to square it out with other like-minded politicians who would want to fly the party's flag.

The drive by the self-styled political activist to ensure that Mt Kenya region's interests are overlooked, became apparent in December 2018 when he 'called out' President Kenyatta for taking development 'elsewhere' at the expense of the region that gave him overwhelming support for his re-election.

Since then Kuria's political stature in the region has grown to the extent through his little known party People's Empowerment Party (PEP) has now been identified as a partner of the Hustler Nation, which is an informal movement tailored to popularize Deputy President William Ruto's 2022 presidential bid.

Kuria's political active career started when he was drafted into the (President Kibaki re-election vehicle) Party of National Unity (PNU) through his association with Kenyatta (the KANU Chairman and Deputy Prime Minister), he would later be appointed as The National Alliance (TNA) Director of Strategy during President Kenyatta's first term.

Despite being the President's MP, Kuria has openly been at the forefront in criticizing the head of state, opposed the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitutional amendment drive in favour of executing popularization meetings to market Ruto in the region.

His impact as a force to reckon with was witnessed recently when it took the intervention of the DP to compel Kuria to withdraw PEP's candidate from the July 18, Kiambaa Parliamentary seat by-election.

PEP, smarting from an unlikely victory in the May 19, Juja Parliamentary Seat by-election, had insisted on fielding a candidate to battle it out against the ruling party Jubilee and United Democratic Alliance (UDA) associated with the DP. However, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwah and Mathira's Rigathi Gachagua would hear none of it as they claimed that Kuria must back down.

"PEP's message of hope and renewal was endorsed by the voters of Gaturi ward in Murang'a on December 15, 2020, and Juja constituency on May 18, 2021. We wanted to present this message for approval by the people of Kiambaa constituency on the July 15 [by-election]," said Kuria.

The Gatundu South MP went on to say that "However, this did not go down well with my colleagues, particularly [Mathira MP] Rigathi Gachagua and [Kikuyu MP] Kimani Ichungwa. I held extensive discussions with my boss and friend Dr William Ruto on this matter. To make my two colleagues happy and above all for the unity of the Hustler nation, PEP will not be fielding a candidate for the Kiambaa by-election."

Following the tactical retreat, Murang'a Senator Irungu Kangata equated Kuria's move to that of a master strategician.

"Moses Kuria, an astute politician in Hustler Nation., is a ranking member of Tanga Tanga. By his two wins in Juja and Gaturi, he has eclipsed pretenders to DP throne in Hustler Nation, at least from my own perspective. Happy that he has agreed to look at the wider picture in Kiambaa," Kang'ata stated.

However, columnist Barrack Muluka says "It's too early to conclude that Kuria is in charge or is stepping up to be the kingpin. This is nothing new to Mt Kenya residents. They will shape up their own path but it's still early to call it a win for Kuria."

Kuria is among Mt Kenya leaders who criticized Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi's coronation as the region's spokesperson recently, saying it is insignificant to the political future of the region.

"This so-called coronation of Muturi is nothing but vanity. It's an exercise in futility, it's like an opinion poll in China, accurate but of no value," Kuria said during a television interview last week.

The retirement of President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2022 has set the stage open for a fierce political battle among the Mt Kenya leaders who are aspiring to succeed him as the region's kingpin

Will Moses Kuria live up to his dream to be a political force in the vote-rich Mt Kenya political base, only time will tell.

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