Kalonzo to face off with Joho, Karua and Munya in DP contest

Written by on 22 April 2022

Former Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua and Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho are among the four individuals being considered as possible running mates of Azimio-One Kenya coalition flag-bearer Raila Odinga. Also being weighed for the position are Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya.

The four, whose names were proposed during yesterday’s first ever Azimio Council chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta, will now be subjected to interviews and interrogation by a five-member committee that has been proposed to settle on a suitable person as the coalition rushes to meet the electoral agency’s timelines. A statement released by Raila’s Presidential Campaign secretariat proposes the four for submission to the committee for consideration effective yesterday.

“The four candidates are proposed on the basis of gender balance, political competence and regional balance,” a statement signed by the Secretariat’s Spokesperson Prof Makau Mutua stated. Whereas Mutua’s statement did not divulge much details, sources at the Secretariat intimated to Inka Fm that the five-member committee will, among other undertakings, conduct a scientific poll that will determine the popularity of those interested in the position.

It will also establish their suitability for the position that has traditionally been considered to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

“We will look at the candidate’s acceptability across board, numbers he or she is likely to bring to the table and financial muscle to support presidential campaign,” the source said.

Majority acceptance

Besides, the nominated candidate will have to be accepted across the 26 parties that make up the coalition. The Council also resolved to establish Azimio’s Coalition Elections Board, Coalition Elections Appeals Board, National Disciplinary Committee and Dispute Resolution Panel.

“The council has resolved to appoint an advisory panel to recommend candidates to the party’s presidential candidate regarding the nomination of the party’s deputy presidential Candidate,” Suna East Junet Mohammed said.

A source who confided to Inka FM said the panel will consist of at least two reputable religious leaders, who will analyse the candidacy of the four individuals and recommend the name to the council and the presidential candidate. The source further divulged that the process of picking the running mate will take place when Raila will be away on his official duty to the US that kicks off today till early May.

This, the source argued, will help ease the pressure on Raila to consider his running mate as well as avoid direct lobbying from interested parties. Although the process will be undertaken in his absence, it has been established that his choice will also be taken into consideration as he will make the final determination.

“It is the view of the council that a small team be set up to look for a suitable candidate who will be Raila’s running mate. This will be done in his absence at least to ease pressure on him to announce his deputy,” said the source.

Political analysts believe that though Joho may have expressed his interest in the job, his could be an uphill task bearing in mind that he is an ODM member just like Kalonzo to face off with Joho, Karua and Munya in DP contest Nominees to be subjected to interviews by a team that has been proposed to settle on a suitable person Raila, which complicates his chances as Jubilee and the Mt Kenya region may not be ready for such an arrangement.

“His candidacy could be symbolic to make residents of the Coast region happy and have something to talk about. He could also be looking for a job since his term is coming to an end, but I do not think his choice would add good value to Raila’s campaigns,” says Prof Macharia Munene, a lecturer in history and international relations.

Munene believes Karua has the advantage of gender card, her stance on corruption and integrity, reformist, strong personality and being a strong-willed politician. “But she has the disadvantage of being somebody who would want to stamp her authority and could be problematic to the boss. On the issue of numbers that she would bring on board, that is debatable,” Munene says.

On Monday, a section of women leaders under Azimio issued a statement agitating for Karua to be appointed to the coveted position. The women leaders, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, Public Service and Gender Programmes CAS Rachel Shebesh and Nairobi Governor Anne Kananu, argued that Karua should be named to the position not only for gender balance, but also due to her glittering career.

“One of the reasons that we are here is as simple as this: Martha Karua as deputy president. It is not rocket science, we do not see why you cannot see the value of Martha, she is a national figure who has been a minister and her record speaks for itself.”

“She is a committed woman known for her integrity and astuteness. We are now in the negotiation space for her, irrespective of which political party we come from.”

On Munya, Munene says that just like Karua, the Agriculture CS has the disadvantage of being high-handed and is somebody who cannot be bullied around and would want to do things his own way. “But he may bring on board some handful of votes, particularly from the Meru region. But I doubt whether he has a national appeal,” the university don observes.

He, however, has a flowering description of Kalonzo, whom he says that apart from being a national figure, he also boasts of about one million voters.

“Besides himself making a lot of noise to be nominated to the position, he also has a battalion of soldiers pushing his cause. To me among all the candidates, he stands out as the man with more attributes than disadvantages,” he says.

However, a section of the Azimio Council is said to be wary of the choice of Kalonzo for what they termed as his indecisiveness, constant threats and intimidation of pulling out and him not being a team player.

Kalonzo threat

Kalonzo has, for instance, insisted that he is the right person to deputise the Azimio presidential candidate and has also threatened to withdraw from the coalition should he miss the number two slot.

Last Sunday, Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary General Francis Atwoli, a renowned ally of both the President and the ODM leader, appeared to let the cat out of the bag when he warned that the numerous demands being issued by Kalonzo and his allies could bottle up his opportunity of being picked in the presidential lineup.

Speaking in Khwisero, Atwoli further claimed that public demands and threats had triggered unwanted tension in the coalition. “I know Kalonzo as an important figure in the coalition and he should focus on building confidence and make people vote for the coalition. Too many conditions will make someone who was to give him deputy president position think twice,” he stated.

Political analysts have for a long time argued that Kalonzo could hold the wild card in the race to succeed President Uhuru. According to this school of thought, the ODM leader’s presidential ambition could suffer a huge setback were he to lose the more than one million votes from the region that bolstered his tally in 2013 and 2017.

Kalonzo’s allies hold the view that Kitui, Machakos and Makueni remain in the grip of the Wiper leader. On the other hand, President Uhuru’s close allies from the Mt Kenya region have also insisted that Raila’s deputy must come from Central Kenya with leaders such as Karua, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth and Munya being fronted for the same position.

The council further directed the National Coalition Executive Committee to immediately prepare a campaign strategy and plan that will ensure Raila wins the 2022 presidential election and forms the next government.

Parliament majority

In addition, the executive committee should also ensure the alliance forms the majority in Parliament and in all 47 county assemblies across the country.

To give themselves room to negotiate and while reacting to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s demand that running mates be named as early as Thursday next week, the alliance has written to the IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati, claiming if the commission applies the law then the “timeline for submission of the names of running mate is between May 29 to June 6,” the letter signed by Prof mutua reads.

Those in attendance at the meeting included Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, Joho, Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege, Taveta MP Naomi Shaban, Karua and Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu among others.

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