MERU, Kenya, Aug 7 – Elections in the country have largely been defined along ethnic and tribal lines but the trend may vary in Meru County where other factors are likely to determine who will be the next leaders.
It is a county with 702,480 registered voters but despite being a perceived Jubilee Party stronghold, a wave of the incumbent Governor Peter Munya’s Party of National Unity is looming.
It is a competition between Jubilee and Party of National Unity locals who spoke to Capital News said on Monday, less than 24 hours to the General Election.
In the gubernatorial contest, it has been described as a two horse race between the incumbent and the current Senator Kiraitu Murungi of the Jubilee Party.
While Murungi has anchored his campaigns on hope to “make Meru County great again” and Munya who has pegged his re-election bid on his four year track record and his 2022 presidential ambition.
“Munya’s 2022 ambitions are quite a factor since some residents would want to have one of their own vying for the big seat,” a local preacher Paul Kimathi said.
Critics of Murungi say he is aged but his supporters defend him as a performer.
“Leadership is not about age. My husband (Murungi) has performed well in all capacities but who told them he is old yet I have not complained?” Priscilla Murungi, the wife of the Jubilee gubernatorial candidate asked.
While Munya hails from Tigania his political rival Kiraitu, is from South Imenti.
– Other Factors –
But other issues like the miraa crop and insecurity will also be a factor.
“We want our Governor, the one who will be elected, to work with the National Government to ensure it has market. It is our economic backbone,” Pastor Kimathi said.
“Our people have been suffering for long time more so after some countries banned the plan. We don’t want the world to think we are bhang farmers.”
Sentiments shared by Leonard Muthomi a miraa farmer.
– Business –
The residents of the county are heavy with expectations and anxiety over who wins but anxiety also exists over the stability of the county during and after the polls.
“We want the next Governor to reduce tax levies since we are the small traders and also to ensure there is proper lighting for our security,” Henry Mutwiri, a boda boda operator said.
Most residents who spoke to Capital FM News are ready to participate in Tuesday’s exercise after having confirmed their details at their respective polling station.
Their only appeal is for the county to remain peaceful after the outcome has been announced.
“We want peace. Let the winner work with those who will lose while so that our county can grow,” Milkah Mukami said.
Peter Kiogera, 21, urged youths to desist from violence.
“We should not be misused to fight for people who rarely mind about our welfare,” Kiogera said.
The county had incidents of violence between rival groups but police have assured that security will be tight in all areas.
Every polling station will have two police officers while others will be deployed in strategic places to ensure sanity prevails, in the county and across all parts of the country.
The county has nine constituencies with a breakdown of registered voters as follows: Buuri 76,033, Central Imenti 70,124, South Imenti 107,414, Igembe South 68,166, Igembe Central 83,912, Igembe North 67,350, Tigania East 64,350, Tigania West 64,114, Tigania East 75, 920 and North Imenti with 89,447.
In the race for Senator, the main competition is between MP Mithika Linturi of Jubilee and Party of National Unity’s Mugambi Imanyara.
Just like in all other parts of the country, the locals want the outcome of the polls to reflect their will.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati has pleaded with the IEBC staff to remain impartial during the elections.