Raila-Karua ticket: What if BBI had passed?

Raila Odinga and Martha Karua

Azimio Presidential Candidate Raila Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua. 

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Raila Odinga couldn’t have made a more inspired choice of running mate. The findings of the first opinion poll conducted by Tifa within hours of the presidential hopefuls unveiling their running mates for the August 9 election suggest a huge Martha Karua bounce for the Azimio coalition ticket.

Mr Odinga turned the tables on Deputy President William Ruto in approval ratings, with 39 per cent of the respondents saying they would vote for him compared to 35 per cent who said they would vote for his opponent. Dr Ruto led a survey by Tifa in April at 39 per cent to Mr Odinga’s 32 per cent.

Ms Karua has significantly re-energised the Raila campaign in her Mt Kenya backyard, pulling crowds to her roadshows and braving hostilities in some. The buzz her nomination has stirred up, especially among women, makes the final lap of the race to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta very interesting to watch.

In the Raila-Karua ticket, the gender equality movement sees a realistic chance of cracking the glass ceiling in political leadership. But if you told anyone seven weeks ago that Ms Karua would be Mr Odinga’s running mate, you would have been dismissed as crazy.

The Supreme Court had just buried the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) – the constitutional moment President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga had conjured up to enable them to bend the succession politics to their will. A casual observer could have easily put their bet on Ms Karua teaming up with Dr Ruto, who was her comrade-in-arms in the battle against BBI.

Twist in the tail

Her surprise move to run with Mr Odinga marks the latest twist in the tail of Kenya’s crazy 2022 election drama. The drama was already intriguing enough, with the images of a sitting President supporting the opposition leader against the Deputy President, and the Deputy President leading the opposition in government forming the backdrop.

The unfolding scene couldn’t have been more freakish. It opened with the aftershocks of the BBI defeat scattering the so-called Handshake brothers’ preferred 2022 election line-up to the four winds.

With the incentive of the powerful positions promised under BBI no longer available, Wiper Democratic Movement party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula drifted away.

The trio initially toyed with the idea of fronting a third force – One Kenya Alliance – against Mr Odinga’s Azimio and Dr Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza, but before long, they would be swept off their feet under aggressive courting by the major coalitions.

Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula fell into Dr Ruto’s ready arms and look relatively settled in their new coalition.

Mr Musyoka meanwhile reunited with his old political flame in Azimio before wandering off again when it became clear Mr Odinga preferred Ms Karua to him for running mate.

What if BBI had passed?

[email protected] @otienootieno

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