Laikipia West Constituency: Resurrection of DP tilts the balance in Laikipia West

The resurrection of the Democratic Party of Kenya (DP), fuelled by the controversial Narc Kenya grassroots elections in Laikipia West constituency, has tilted the scales a bit against the incumbent Mr G G Kariuki.

Recently, the aspirants for the seat, jointly with 23 civic hopefuls, conducted grassroots elections to revitalise the party. This was seen as a reaction to the Narc-K elections in which Mr Kariuki and his supporters clinched all the posts amid allegations of irregularities.

The DP members took this step in an apparent move to lock out Mr Kariuki and perhaps confine him in Narc-K.

Re-election bid

However, DP and Narc-K have announced their support for President Kibaki and his re-election bid.

The President formed DP on Christmas Day of 1991 and the party has made it known that he is welcome to run for a second term on its ticket. Narc-K has extended a similar invitation to him.

Twelve aspirants, including Mr Kariuki’s nephew Mr Peter Thome, are seeking to oust him. Others are former MP Mr Chege Mbitiru, Mr Peter Mumo Gathuru and Mr Kung’u Kihika, a son of former MP the late Kihika Kimani.

Others hopefuls are: Mr Peter Mumo, Mr Martin Kiruthu, Mr Dominic Oseko, Mr David Kamunya, Dr Stanley Kabugi, Mr Michael Mugo and Mr Nderitu Muriithi.

Ms Eunice Muthoni is the only woman in the race. She is the local DP branch treasurer.

Dr Kabugi is the party’s branch secretary while Mr Muriithi is the assistant treasurer.

The decision by the aspirants to hold joint rallies has re-ignited some interest in the party among the residents.

But the voters do not seem to be interested in parties but in a leader who is able to bring them development and peace.

The MP is banking on his development record.

Mr Kariuki, who was first area MP in 1963, has dismissed DP as a dead party which has no room in Laikipia politics.

He has ensured that the Constituencies Development Fund (CDF) money is used to establish dispensaries, maternity wings, water projects and police posts.

These projects have used Sh86 million out of the Sh117 million allocated to the constituency in the last three financial years.

Mr Mbitiru, who beat Mr Kariuki in 1997 and lost to him in 2002, is bracing for another showdown.

In 1997, Mr Kariuki vied on Kanu ticket. Kanu was unpopular in Central Province at the time. He reclaimed it on a Narc ticket in 2002.

The MP’s critics blame him for failing to reconcile the communities living in the area.

Mr Oseko claims that the MP has failed to initiate reconciliation talks between Samburu and Pokot herdsmen, who have been battling over pasture in parts of Ol Moran and Rumuruti divisions.

The aspirants say that Mr Kariuki’s style of leadership has created division among local leaders and consequently affected development.

Vision to unite

DP branch chairman and Nyahururu mayor Mr John Muritu says the residents want a new leader with a vision to unite leaders and people across the political and tribal divides.

He says Mr Kariuki has failed to unite people by putting people from one community in the constituency development committee.

Ms Muthoni, who has been addressing meetings in every division seeking to clinch the DP ticket, says Mr Kariuki has nothing new to offer to the area residents since he has had four decades to serve the people.

While the DP candidate will be directly elected by the people through secret ballot, Narc-K’s flag-bearer is Mr Kariuki.

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