The move has been described as a clear sign of cracks among the leaders in the opposition coalition.
Karua, Raila Odinga’s deputy, has named the new political outfit as Kamwene Leadership Forum.
She said the forum, which remains within the opposition coalition is specifically aimed at checking on Ruto’s regime that she refers to as illegitimate, and also champion the interests of the people from the voter-rich Mount Kenya region.
“We are pushing the interests of our people,” she said this week in Nairobi, during a meeting with other leaders who form the forum that is led by those in the Jubilee Party, an affiliate of the opposition coalition.
We are united with a shared concern that resonates across our communities, our families, and our lives; the soaring cost of living. It is an issue that touches the very core of our existence, and it is high time it’s addressed with the urgency it deserves.
We demand immediate… pic.twitter.com/9BxWUc1A2j
— Hon. Jeremiah Kioni (@HonKioni) September 19, 2023
She refuted claims of a rift within the coalition insisting that the formation of a new political outfit does not mean that she plans to quit the Raila-led coalition party.
“This does not mean that we are not in Azimio. If we were not, we would have said it,” she said.
Working with the coalition
On 3 August, Karua met other senior politicians from the Mount Kenya region who are part of the coalition.
They include Jeremiah Kioni, the embattled secretary general of the Jubilee Party; Peter Munya, who is a former agriculture minister, and Ndiritu Muriithi, former Laikipia governor.
— Martha Karua SC (@MarthaKarua) August 3, 2023
The Azimio la Umoja One Kenya had previously failed to name a representative from the Mount Kenya region to participate in the ongoing bipartisan talks between the government and the opposition.
Karua wants the political talks suspended if two critical issues — the rising cost of living and electoral injustice — will not be given priority.
“Be woke so that if the Kenya Kwanza regime is not serious in these talks then we should know of our next move,” she said.
Opposition politicians from Mount Kenya feel betrayed after losing out in the Kalonzo Musyoka-led committee and it seems they don’t trust the process, Wycliffe Odera, a political analyst, tells The Africa Report.
“It appears Martha Karua is keen to forge a new political alliance and ditch Azimio ahead of 2027 polls,” he says.
People from Mount Kenya don’t trust her. It’s clear their hopes are on the current Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua
However, Odera adds that Martha faces a tall order as she will have to convince the region to accept the new outfit yet she has little political influence.
“People from Mount Kenya don’t trust her. It’s clear their hopes are on the current Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua,” he says.
Julius Mwangi, a member of the Azimio coalition from Nyeri town in the Mount Kenya region, who voted for Raila in the last presidential poll, tells The Africa Report that he does not see Karua’s political outfit going far.
“We see [the] Kamwene Leadership Forum as a tribal grouping with selfish political interests from those leaders,” he says.
He wants Martha to fight for citizens from within the Azimio coalition because of its nationwide appeal.
A few months after Ruto was sworn in as president, a number of politicians in the Azimio coalition led by Kanini Kaga and Sabina Chege from the affiliate Jubilee Party shifted their allegiance to the ruling regime.
Despite reports that opposition leaders from Mount Kenya are charting their own political path, Raila has has consistently downplayed possibilities of a split within the coalition.
“We are strong together. Azimio la Umoja, One Kenya Alliance is as united as ever before,” he told a political gathering last month.
Our verdict on the first year of the Kenya Kwanza regime: “It’s been a grand disaster!” – with Baba @RailaOdinga Mama @MarthaKarua @HonKioni @EugeneLWamalwa among other Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Alliance Coalition leaders. pic.twitter.com/stfd8a5ZIp
— Kalonzo Musyoka (@skmusyoka) September 15, 2023
Last Friday, Martha and other Azimio leaders addressed a joint press conference as a sign of unity, criticising Ruto’s one year in office as a grand failure.
Understand Africa’s tomorrow… today
We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.