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Economy

Ex-Kibaki men gun for political comeback

Mr Francis Kimemia, the former head of civil service, is gunning for the Nyandarua governor seat. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Mr Francis Kimemia, the former head of civil service, is gunning for the Nyandarua governor seat. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Former State officers who wielded power in former President Mwai Kibaki’s regime have lined up for political positions in this year’s elections, hoping to regain the limelight and the glamour that come with public office.

Most of those trying to make a comeback to public life served in the Narc and Grand Coalition administrations, but left government when Mr Kibaki’s term ended in 2013. A few were briefly retained by the Jubilee government only to be kicked out for alleged involvement in corruption.

Analysts expect the Kibaki power men to influence President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession should he win a second term at the August polls.

“Team Uhuru no longer feels threatened by Kibaki-era elites who are more experienced and established,” said Peter Kagwanja, the chief executive of the Africa Policy Institute.

“Uhuru’s successor for the central Kenya bloc will likely come from among Kibaki men who will win governor positions. They are a power to reckon with. We’re seeing a lot of aspirants and sitting governors from among them – including [Francis] Kimemia, [the former Secretary to the Cabinet].”

While most are opting for county seats like those of governor and senator, others want to take up legislative roles in the National Assembly. Mr Kimemia, the former head of civil service, is gunning for the Nyandarua governor seat. He left the civil service acrimoniously after he was linked to corruption in the Office of the President and was forced to step aside to pave the way for investigations.

Although he was later cleared of the charges, he was not reappointed to his former position as Secretary to the Cabinet.  In March last year, Mr Kimemia, 59, made a comeback to the public service after Mr Kenyatta appointed him  chairman of Industrial, and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC), a position he later quit to concentrate on building his political career.

Martha Karua -- who has served as Gichugu MP for 20 years, appointed Minister of Water and Irrigation in the Kibaki government in 2003 before moving to the powerful Justice and Constitutional affairs ministry in 2005 -- also wants to be governor. Ms Karua has been the Narc-Kenya party leader since 2002 and is plotting a comeback as governor of Kirinyaga where she is facing strong opponents such as former Devolution and Planning secretary Ann Waiguru and incumbent Joseph Ndathi. 

“Our years of public service are a plus to governance and management of resources in devolved units,” said Ms Karua.

Kilemi Mwiria, who is eyeing the Meru governor seat, served as assistant minister for Higher education, Science and Technology in the Kibaki administration. 

Former Defence permanent secretary Mutea Iringo is gunning for the North Imenti parliamentary seat and will be battling it out for the Jubilee party ticket against the incumbent Rahim Dawood and others.

Mr Kenyatta retained Mr Iringo as Interior PS upon coming to power in 2013 before he was moved to Defence and ultimately suspended in 2015 to allow for investigations into alleged corruption in the department. 

In Embu, former Industrialisation PS Cyrus Njiru is in the gubernatorial race against the incumbent Martin Nyaga Wambora. Dr Njiru also served Transport PS and was shortlisted for a new government job in 2013 but missed the appointment.

Former Co-operatives minister and Manyatta MP Njeru Ndwiga is also hoping for a comeback as Embu senator. In Tharaka-Nithi, former Trade and Industry assistant minister and Nithi MP Petkay Miriti is plotting a political comeback after four years in the cold.

The former intelligence officer has entered the race for governor on a Jubilee ticket. His party, United Patriotic Party of Kenya, was one of those merged to form Jubilee Party.

And in the neighbouring Laikipia County, Thuita Mwangi, former Foreign Affairs PS in the Grand Coalition government, is aiming to be the next governor.

Ndiritu Muriithi, a nephew of Mr Kibaki, is among the seven candidates on the campaign trail in Laikipia for the governor’s seat currently held by Joshua Irungu. The former Laikipia West MP (between 2007 and 2013) also served as Industrialisation assistant minister in his uncle’s government.

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