political interest

Kenya: Ruto accuses opposition of mobilising outlawed Mungiki sect

By Victor Abuso

Posted on June 15, 2023 11:16

 © File photo of Maina Njenga (R), ex-leader of the Mungiki Sect, with his lawyer Robert Asembo (L) (REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya)
File photo of Maina Njenga (R), ex-leader of the Mungiki Sect, with his lawyer Robert Asembo (L) (REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya)

Kenya President William Ruto is accusing opposition coalition Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Alliance led by Raila Odinga of trying to revive the outlawed Mungiki sect to advance its political agenda.

The former powerful sect, which began in the 1990s as a religious outfit made of youths from Central Kenya and the Nairobi regions, was banned in 2002, after it was branded a criminal organised group.

In 2007, more than 100 suspected sect members were killed in a police crackdown after the group was blamed for a series of killings in central Kenya.

Ruto warned that the group, made from the populous Kikuyu tribe, will not be allowed to operate in Kenya. He accused the opposition of continuous engagements with former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga, now a politician and pastor, for political gain among the youths in the Mount Kenya region.

“Opposition leaders are trying to bring back Mungiki for their own political interest,” Ruto told supporters during a rally in Kirinyaga, Central Kenya, on Tuesday.

“There will be nothing like Mungiki in this country again,” he added, telling the opposition to come up with proposals to help the jobless youth.

Njenga arrested

Ruto’s remarks come a few weeks after Mungiki ex-leader Njenga was arrested in May and charged in court with organising criminal activities. Police found two firearms and more than 90 rolls of bhang (marijuana) at his home. He was later released on KSh100,000 ($715) bond. He denied the accusations.

Following his arrest, he was represented in court by opposition leaders, led by Raila’s former running mate Martha Karua and former presidential candidate George Wajackoyah.

Since 2007, the former Mungiki leader has been a staunch supporter of Raila. During the 2022 political campaigns, Njenga came out to campaign for the opposition leader in Mount Kenya region – a Ruto political stronghold.

Njenga says he is not intimidated by the government, accusing Ruto’s government of harassment.

“Why are they harassing me? I don’t want to be on their political side,” Njenga said.

The government fears the former Mungiki leader could influence youths, which could lead to Ruto losing in popularity ahead of the 2027 polls, political analyst Edwin Kegoli tells The Africa Report.

“Ruto’s fears are legitimate. He does not want to lose his political influence in Mount Kenya,” he says.

Raila has accused the government of profiling youths from Mount Kenya, citing political motivation.

“Maina Njenga has been vilified and harassed. The government is trying to find an excuse to arrest him and detain him,” said Raila. leader.

The veteran opposition leader accused Ruto of trying to force the former Mungiki leader to support his administration as Njenga said the president has lost touch with ordinary Kenyans, especially the youths.

“The youths have nothing else to do, give them jobs,” he said.

Azimio member Martha Karua, who also hails from the Mount Kenya region, accused Ruto of having taken advantage of the youths to ascend to power and has now turned against them.

“I want to remind Ruto to stop profiling the same youths he referred to as hustlers who voted for him,” she said.

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