MERU, September 14 – The Party of National Unity (PNU) suffered a major setback on Sunday when eight Members of Parliament from Meru among them three assistant ministers announced they would form a new party.
Led by Higher Education assistant minister Kilemi Mwiria and his agriculture counterpart Japheth Kareke, the legislators dismissed the PNU elections as a gimmick meant to endorse a pre-determined leadership.
The leaders said the name of the party and its officials would be announced in two week’s time.
Speaking in Meru town on Sunday, Kareke said the legislators had formed the party to reach out to other communities and break away from the traditional voting pattern where the community only voted for a Mt Kenya candidate.
“We don’t want to be used as rubberstamps by PNU to endorse some people’s agenda”, he said.
Others who attended the meeting were Mburi Muiru (Tharaka), Mithika Linturi (Igembe South), and Silas Muriuki (North Imenti).
East Africa Community assistant minister Peter Munya and legislators Gitobu Imanyara (Central Imenti) and Ntoitha N’Mithiaru (Igembe North) are said to have supported the move.
The leaders left out Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi who is spearheading the Eastern Province PNU recruitment drive.
Speaking after learning of the formation of the new party, Murungi who is also the Chairman of the Meru Parliamentary Group said he was “surprised” by the move.
Murungi said the MPs had earlier handed out a list of delegates who would be conducting the PNU recruitment drives in their respective constituencies.
He said by alienating him, the MPs were going against the Meru unity discussed over the weekend.
Linturi and Muriuki said the party would not allow any leader linked with corruption to join it, adding they would reach out to other communities and have officials from outside Meru.
Mwiria said many political parties were led by tainted leaders and said their party would eliminate the culture of glorifying and rewarding corrupt persons with leadership positions.
Kareke said he was optimistic that the party would have conformed to the new Political Parties’ Bill by next year and Murungi would abandon PNU and join the party.
“We are sure after two weeks, he will come home knocking. As our chairman, we would want him to even lead the party,” said the Nithi MP.
Muiru said the Meru people had for long been used by others to help them ascend to power.
“We need to change our voting pattern and look for a new political dispensation. We will even work with other communities that we have never worked with before,” he said.
Muiru, Linturi and Mbiuki were elected on a Kanu ticket while Dr Mwiria, Munya and N’Mithiaru were elected on a PNU ticket (Narc Kenya).
The move came as Justice Minister Martha Karua was on a three-day tour of Meru where all the MPs including Murungi paid glowing tribute to her and urged her to go on with her presidential bid.