Kenya: Raila starts the search for a running mate as Musyoka protests

By Victor Abuso
Posted on Thursday, 5 May 2022 10:59, updated on Monday, 20 June 2022 11:42

Opposition leader Raila Odinga addresses the Azimio la Umoja (Declaration of Unity) coalition conference which endorsed him as the presidential candidate for this year's general elections at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), Nairobi, Kenya, 12 March 2022. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

A seven-member committee has begun interviews to find a suitable running mate for Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga in his 9 August presidential bid.

The Azimio la Umoja coalition flag bearer chose the committee, which comprises senior religious leaders and veteran politicians, to come up with a suitable running mate after top leaders failed to agree on a candidate.

The panel led by former minister Noah Wekesa has until 10 May to make the decision ahead of the 16 May deadline when presidential candidates are to submit the name of their running mates to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

The coalition’s executive committee secretary-general, Junet Mohamed, says Raila is looking for a running mate who will demonstrate respect for the people and dignity to the office.

Other qualities include:

  • unquestionable personal integrity in public and private life;
  • objectivity and impartiality in decision making;
  • and not being influenced by nepotism, favouritism, other improper motives or corrupt practices in decision making.

He further says that the committee will ensure that Raila does not end up with a deputy like William Ruto, who has had a frosty relationship with President Uhuru Kenyatta since 2018.

Who are the eligible candidates?

The more than 20 political parties that form the Azimio la Umoja coalition were asked to submit the name of a candidate who wishes to become Raila’s running mate.

“The committee shall only consider candidates who are members of the Azimio la Umoja coalition party,” Wekesa, the chairman of the selection committee, said on Wednesday.

Among the people who have shown interest are Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper leader), Peter Kenneth (former member of parliament), Martha Karua (Narc Kenya leader), Charity Ngilu (National Rainbow Coalition leader), and Peter Munya (agriculture minister).

However, all eyes are on Musyoka, who in the 2013 and 2017 polls was Raila’s running mate. He still insists that he is the right man for the job,  considering his political experience and the sacrificed ambitions to support Raila. It was in March this year that Musyoka announced his support for Raila, for a third try.

‘Demeaning to him’

Musyoka says he will not participate in the running mate vetting process because it is demeaning to him and he should be an obvious pick for the position.

He should be humble and attend the interview.

He warns that if he is not given the running mate position, Raila will lose votes from the Ukambani region, Musyoka’s stronghold. “Truth be told, it will be difficult to access the votes in Ukambani,” he told KTN television.

Musyoka is getting support from his close allies who have advised him not to participate in the selection process. “No Kalonzo, no Raila!” said Dan Maanzo, who is a member of parliament from Makueni and a close Musyoka ally.

And Team Ruto?

Ruto is yet to pick his running mate, but he is already stirring the pot with regards to Raila’s choices.

Brian Wanyama, a political analyst and lecturer at Kibabii University in Western Kenya, says if Musyoka does not appear before the interview panel, he should count himself out of the running mate contest. “He should be humble and attend the interview,” Wanyama tells The Africa Report.

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