Nairobi, Kenya | By Michael Wandati | The Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Political Party has pushed the naming of Raila Odinga’s running mate to Monday, May 16 – the deadline set by the electoral commission.
The coalition was expected to unveil the presidential candidate’s running mate on Sunday 15, May 2022 afternoon at a rally at the historic Kamukunji grounds in Nairobi.
However, in a statement to newsrooms, Makau Mutua, the spokesperson of Raila Odinga’s presidential campaign secretariat, confirmed the announcement of Odinga’s running mate will be made tomorrow amid the growing anxiety.
“Our campaign is aware that Kenyans are anxious to know the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Presidential ticket. We will make the announcement tomorrow. Thank you,” he said.
Meanwhile, Raila Odinga’s arch-rival William Ruto of the Kenya Kwanza (Kenya First) coalition, which comprises more than 10 political parties, unveiled Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua as his running mate on Sunday 15 afternoon.
Speaking after the announcement, Mr Gachagua said he would work with Mr Ruto to address the country’s ailing economy.
Mr Gachagua has previously worked as a district officer and once served as the personal assistant of President Kenyatta during his stint as minister in charge of local government.
Since 2017, he’s served as the member of parliament for Mathira constituency in Central Kenya, which has produced three of Kenya’s four presidents – Jomo Kenyatta, Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta.
The race between Mr Ruto and Mr Odinga is expected to be close, with President Uhuru Kenyatta backing his former rival Mr Odinga rather than his own deputy.
Sources in the know intimate Mr Odinga is also keen on picking his running mate from the vote-rich Mount Kenya (Central) region like Mr Ruto.
Politicians from the area have insisted that whoever gets into State House must guarantee the interests of the community.
Ethnic Kikuyus, and people from the wider Central region, have massive influence on both the economy and politics.
Candidates know that their support on 9 August will be crucial.
The team tasked with selecting a running mate for Mr Odinga submitted three names to the ODM party leader on Thursday.
The seven-member panel chaired by former Kwanza MP Noah Wekesa noted that the three candidates were ranked on the basis of the average marks they scored during interviews conducted on Monday and Tuesday at Serena Hotel.
Top contenders for the post include party leaders Martha Karua (Narc Kenya), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and former Gatanga MP Peter Keneth.
Others vetted included Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege, ODM deputy party leaders Hassan Joho and Wycliffe Oparanya, Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya (Party of National Unity), Narc leader Charity Ngilu and her National Liberal Party counterpart Stephen Tarus.
Musyoka, who hails from the Eastern region, insists he is the most suitable candidate to deputise Odinga having run as the former prime minister’s running mate twice, in 2013 and 2017.