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Raila Odinga secretly meets Tharaka-Nithi leaders in Nairobi

Although details of the meeting remain scanty, Mr Mwangangi said there is an elaborate plan to convert Tharaka-Nithi into opposition stronghold in 2017.

Mr Kithure, who is also the Senate Majority Leader, has been accused of failing to deliver Jubilee goodies to his backyard.

Some Tharaka-Nithi County leaders secretly met Cord Leader Raila Odinga at an undisclosed location in Nairobi at the weekend, the Nation can reveal.

Little is known about the meeting’s agenda but some of the attendees on Monday told the Nation that their Nairobi visit was meant to seal a deal with the opposition leader on 2017 elections.

The meeting comes barely a month after Mr Raila and Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi toured the county perceived to be one of Jubilee’s strongholds in the wider Meru region.

JUBILEE STRONGHOLD

Mr Sebastian Mwangangi, a chief officer in the Tharaka-Nithi county government, said everything is set for the county to throw its weight behind the opposition in 2017 in case Jubilee does not fulfill the promises it made to locals in 2013.

Mr Mwangangi confirmed that Mr Odinga is keen to get substantial votes from Jubilee strongholds, especially counties that have been sidelined in development like Tharaka-Nithi.

“We supported President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy in 2013 elections for a purpose and not for a mere ‘stronghold’ title,” said Mr Mwangangi.

TWO-HOUR MEETING

Other leaders who attended the two-hour meeting are members of the Tharaka-Nithi County Assembly, including Mr Muthengi Mubiu (Gatunga), Mr Gataya Mwenda (Mukothima) and Mr Nevert Ntwiga Kinuthia (Mitheru).

Also in attendance was Mr Odinga’s crusader and activist Mike Mutembei alias Makarina from Meru County.

JUBILEE GOODIES

It is also worth noting that the same team of MCAs and the chief officer has been hitting out out at Tharaka-Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki on alleged “theoretical” development approach to the county.

According to Mr Mwangangi, Jubilee will have to work harder to regain the support of Tharaka-Nithi residents who recently took to the streets to protest against Deputy President William Ruto.

This was after Mr Ruto made remarks that appeared to suggest the national government does not recognise Kathwana town as the county’s headquarters.

CAUSED JITTERS

The residents vowed to vote for the Opposition in 2017, saying the Jubilee administration has neglected them.

Local leaders, led by Governor Samuel Ragwa, his deputy Mati Murithi and MCAs, said Mr Ruto’s statement was a clear indication that the national government recognises Chuka town as the county headquarters.

The Nairobi visit has caused jitters among Jubilee supporters in the county, with some claiming Mr Ragwa is behind all the plans.

Former Tharaka MP Francis Kagwima, who hopes to be the running-mate of Mr Petkay Miriti in the governor’s race, called on President Kenyatta to make a quick visit in the county to correct a statement made by Mr Ruto over the county headquarters.

“This is a sign of a politically divided county and if the Jubilee’s top leadership does not address the headquarters row that was caused by Mr Ruto, a big number of locals will vote opposition in 2017,” said Mr Kagwima.

DIVIDE VOTERS

Some local leaders, he said, have moved to opposition and will divert many votes from Jubilee in 2017.

Mr Miriti, who is a member of Mr Kenyatta’s campaign team, accused local leaders of misleading the residents for their personal gain.

However, he said, Jubilee government needs to boost its relationship with the residents through development projects.

“We want Tharaka-Nithi County to remain Jubilee’s stronghold and it is wrong for leaders to divide voters,” said Mr Miriti.

Mr James Mutegi, a supporter of Jubilee, said Mr Ragwa and other local leaders who are willing to join opposition should not use the issue of underdevelopment to convince the locals to vote opposition in 2017.

RAGWA DENIES

“The leaders can move to opposition but the voters will vote Jubilee in 2017,” said Mr Mutegi.

In a past meeting, Prof Kindiki asked Mr Ragwa to openly declare his support to Mr Odinga rather than pretending that he is still in Jubilee.

However, Mr Ragwa has maintained that he will seek re-election on Jubilee Party ticket.

He also denied inviting Mr Odinga and Mr Mudavadi to his county.

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