Major parties in a quandary: Narc-Kenya

Things are not any rosier in Narc-Kenya. Apart from unfinished business on its grassroots elections, sharp rifts have emerged in the party with various factions now pulling in very different directions. Last week, the party postponed the long awaited grassroots elections to early next month.

In what seemed to be a strategy to downplay the impact of the rifts in the party, the party gave flimsy grounds as the cause for the postponement of the polls. Party interim officials explained that they were pushing the elections forward after realizing that the day that the elections were to begin at the polling station level fell on a school day.

An officer at the secretariat said that the party was putting final touches to the party elections that will begin on the third day of next month. But behind the scenes, the party was still trying to stem the growing discontent among the aspirants led by former Kanu die-hard Kimani Ngunjiri, who insist that the party constitution is skewed against them and instead favours sitting MPs.

It is the aspirants who prevailed on the party secretariat to postpone the meeting, citing the various issues that they needed dealt with before they could participate in the elections. One of the issues that the aspirants want changed is the party’s decision to have sitting MPs as the party leaders at the constituency level. The aspirants also want six aspirants from every constituency to have automatic membership at the national delegates convention, among a raft of other demands.

But the most fractitious rift in the fiercely pro-governemnt party is between Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, the interim chairman and Prof. George Saitoti, the minister for Education over the party’s chairmanship. The row between the two has taken a generational dimension where Kituyi is seen to represent the young turks in government while Saitoti is seen to represent the old guard.

In Kituyi’s camp are fierce government defenders including Amos Kimunya, the Minister for Finance, Mutua Katuku, the Minister for Water, Martha Karua, the minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, and Beth Mugo, Assistant Minister for Education, and Danson Mungatana, the Assistant Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

But there is a third faction which includes party moderates. In this faction are Prof Kivutha Kibwana, Kipruto Kirwa and Mwamgi Kiunjuri. This faction took Kituyi to task when he lambasted Saitoti for declaring his intentions to run for the party’s chairmanship. If Saitoti was a new comer in the party, the group led by Kibwana said, Kituyi too was a newcomer and should not run for the same post.

The party problem could multiply if Kibaki made a categorical statement that he would not vie for a second term on the party’s ticket. So far, the party’s popularity in certain sections of the country is predicated on the assumption that Kibaki will run for the second term on the party’s ticket.

With the old Narc now in a frenzy to reinvent itself and with Murungaru’s statement that Narc-Kenya should drop its arrogance and begin to build bridges with other pro-government parties, doubts are beginning to emerge on the chances of Kibaki defecting to the nascent party.

The picture becomes gloomier for the party when it emerges that, among the people pushing for a stronger Narc, is Alex Mureithi, the president’s nephew.

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