President Uhuru Kenyatta starts his tour of six Mt Kenya counties this week under the cloud of looming voter apathy, infighting among Jubilee candidates and a fierce opposition onslaught on the region.
He will also come face-to-face with the fallout occasioned by the Jubilee nominations where some of his allies who lost are now running as independents.
His endorsement or lack of it may also seal the fate of some candidates, especially in Kirinyaga, where former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru is facing off with Narc-K boss Martha Karua in a contest that is becoming a slugfest.
The President was scheduled to start his tour in Murang’a on Tuesday morning then head to Nyeri.
A new schedule will be released later. He will also visit Kirinyaga, Embu, Meru, Tharaka-Nithi and Machakos.
During the 2013 elections, turn-out in most counties in central Kenya was more than 93 per cent, enabling Jubilee to avoid a presidential run-off.
But the real test of the visit will be walking the thin line between Jubilee and independent candidates.
He got a taste of the fine line in Thika Sub-County in Kiambu and Laikipia when Jubilee candidates were heckled by angry crowds.
In Kirinyaga, Ms Waiguru and Ms Karua have already thrown jabs at each other over their closeness to the President.
Last week, Ms Waiguru accused Ms Karua of riding on the popularity of the President to win support.
“When Karua attends meetings where the President is, she makes sure she takes photographs while near the President.
This is to create the impression that she is the President’s favourite for the governor seat,” said the former CS.
Ms Karua accused her of being a liability to the President when she was Devolution minister.
PLUNDER OF PUBLIC RESOURCES
“We need to vote for people who have no history of involvement in plunder of public resources,” said Ms Karua.
While in Kirinyaga, the President is expected to address the issue of the Sh40 billion Thiba dam, which has stalled due to leadership wrangles.
In Murang’a, the politicians to watch would be Senate candidates Irungu Kang’ata and Deputy Speaker Kembi Gitura.
Mr Kang’ata, a reggae-loving grassroots mobiliser and youthful rabble-browser known for his simple lifestyle, pulled off a political miracle when he floored Mr Gitura, a former envoy, two-time MP, speaker and Jubilee insider.
Mr Gitura says he was rigged out during the primaries.
Both are engaged in door-to-door campaigns. Mr Gitura has also gone to court to protest against space allocated to his billboards.
“We expect Uhuru to repeat the call he made in Kiambu; for six-piece voting of Jubilee candidates,” Mr Kang’ata said.
In Nyeri, Mathira MP candidate Wambura Maranga urged President Kenyatta not to campaign for Jubilee candidates.
But Kieni MP Kanini Kega said it was only natural that the President would do what Mr Maraga was uncomfortable with.
HUNTED FOR VOTES
In Meru, the rivalry between Governor Peter Munya and Senator Kiraitu Murungi will be on display as Mr Kenyatta lands in the county at the weekend.
National Super Alliance presidential flagbearer Raila Odinga camped in the region for a week as he hunted for votes.
“Meru people love the President but Jubilee appointed the wrong people to spearhead his campaigns here,” Mr Munya said in an apparent swipe at the senator.
In Embu, a showdown is also expected between Governor Martin Wambora and Senator Lenny Kivuti. Both are close to Jubilee.