Running-mate puzzle with just three days to go

Written by on 26 April 2022

Presidential hopefuls have less than 72 hours to name running mates in the August 9 election. The announcement yesterday by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has caused jitters among politicians gunning for the top seat.

While it may seem like an easy decision, the 2022 political matrix has seen the leading contenders play a game of chess in naming their number two candidate. Doing so too early would give the opponent a chance to review the regional balance in their equation.

The camps of Deputy President William Ruto and political nemesis Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition presidential aspirant Raila Odinga, have been trying to engage the IEBC on the possibility of an extension but this is yet to bear fruit, with another meeting set for today.

The timeline, which ends on Thursday, can only be altered by IEBC where the leadership of the two parties and that of Safina whose presidential candidate is businessman Jimi Wanjigi have been invited.

Yesterday, Raila’s ally and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed told People Daily that they met IEBC commissioners over the matter and made some progress. The commission postponed the meeting slated for April 25, citing the death of former President Mwai Kibaki.

“We presented to the commissioners what we feel, as stakeholders in the election process, and we’ll provide more details after a meeting tomorrow (today),” said Junet.

Last week, the Azimio Council formed a seven-member teamto help come up with a suitable candidate for running mate. Junet, while elusive on whether the committee had been set up, maintained the details would be made public after meeting with IEBC commissioners.

The Wafula Chebukati-led commission had insisted that all presidential and gubernatorial hopefuls should submit their names, together with those of their running mates, by April 28. In a letter to United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Secretary-General Veronica Maina, Chebukati said an election is a process and not an event, adding that the nomination is an integral part of the election process.

Pursuant to the foregoing, it is abundantly clear that nomination of a candidate for the President and Deputy President seat is conjoined,” reads the letter.

“It is our considered view that by the time the party nominations window closes, presidential candidates should have nominated their running mates, lest there be separate processes contrary to what is envisaged in the Constitution,” it added.

Deputy governors included Gubernatorial aspirants are not spared the deadline. According to IEBC, they must settle on their running mates and submit the names by Thursday, April 28.

“The above extrapolation applies to candidates for the position of governors and their deputies under Article 180 (5) and (6) of the Constitution as read together with qualification for Members of County Assembly, read together with Section 25 of the Elections Act.”

Similarly, in a letter responding to an earlier one by the Azimio la Umoja secretariat, IEBC maintains that the end date for submissions of presidential candidates and their running mates is April 28. The commission said it was guided by the law and its Election Operation Plan, which was published in a special issue of the ‘Kenya Gazette’ on January 20, 2022.

“The Commission is cognisant of the fact that in 2017, we received the names of presidential candidates and their deputies, as well as those of county governors and their deputies, before the date of registration of candidates. The Candidate Registration Management System bears records vindicating this position. This presents a solid precedent,” says the commission.

Even as Raila has had to cut short his official visit to the US and travel back on Wednesday to attend former President Kibaki’s burial, sources say he will be coming to finalise the issue of a running mate should IEBC stick to their stand.

Recent opinion polls put former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth as the most preferred running mate for Raila. Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka comes in second, while Martha Karua closes the top three list.

Pollsters place Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi as the most preferred running mate for Ruto, followed by Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, with Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro third.

Last week, Azimio Council formed a seven-member team to settle on a suitable person before IEBC’s time-lines. In their first major meeting after the gazettement, the Azimio Council chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta resolved to establish its 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 its presidential candidate as the deputy aspirant,” said Junet.

Reader's opinions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Current track