Raila running mate position not a must, Jubilee now says

Jubilee Party Vice-Chairman David Murathe

Jubilee Party Vice-Chairman David Murathe. He has thrown a spanner in the works after declaring that the post of Mr Raila Odinga’s running mate is not reserved for Mt Kenya.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Jubilee Party Vice-Chairman David Murathe has thrown a spanner in the works after declaring that the post of Mr Raila Odinga’s running mate is not reserved for Mt Kenya.

Mr Murathe cited the entry of Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka into the Azimio la Umoja coalition and his subsequent endorsement of Mr Odinga’s presidential bid for a third time as among developments that could alter the long-held view.

Mr Murathe was categorical that if winning over Mr Musyoka meant to hand over the running mate slot to him, “so be it.”

“As Mt Kenya, we are not so keen on the number two but our fair share of government,” Mr Murathe told the Nation, raising eyebrows. “If that is what it will take to bring Kalonzo, so be it,” he added, as he appeared to suggest the region’s power brokers have probably set their eyes on a much bigger prize.

“If BBI had worked, we could have Prime Minister,” Mr Murathe said, referring to the campaign to amend the constitution under the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

 “And BBI is not dead, we are waiting for the Supreme Court verdict. Even if it won’t happen now, it will happen in the future.

Fair representation

“So I don’t think for us the DP position is a priority if we get fair representation in government. Maybe for the other side it’s a priority – for (Deputy President William) Ruto because he is banking on Mt Kenya votes. Without Mt Kenya, Ruto is finished,” he said.

Mr Murathe also argued that the Kikuyu community has been at the helm for 35 years – President Jomo Kenyatta (15 years), President Mwai Kibaki (10 years) and President Uhuru Kenyatta (10 years), hence it should not be a major concern what position the community gets so long as it gets its fair share of government.

But leaders from Mt Kenya who are backing Mr Odinga’s presidential bid have insisted the region expects him to pick a running mate from the region.

It’s a demand Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui reiterated on Saturday as protracted negotiations with Mr Musyoka delayed the Azimio la Umoja delegates conference that subsequently endorsed Mr Odinga as the coalition’s flag bearer.

Mr Kinyanjui, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and Narc Kenya chairperson Martha Karua are among those who have featured as possible nominees for Deputy President.

Inroads into Mt Kenya

On Monday, Mr Murathe said Mr Odinga had made inroads into Mt Kenya, partly helped by his endorsement by President Kenyatta.

“We don’t run the risk of losing Mt Kenya votes even if the region fails to get the running mate slot,” Mr Murathe said. “Of course for political optics it is important to offer running mate slot to Mt Kenya but for me I don’t subscribe to that thinking.”

The entry of Mr Musyoka into the Azimio fold has unsettled some key players in the team over Mr Odinga’s possible running mate, with some insisting the position must go to Mt Kenya due to the region’s voter numbers.

The justification is that should Mr Odinga choose a running mate outside Mt Kenya, his main opponent, DP Ruto, might overrun him in the region.

Mt Kenya’s 10 counties control nearly a third of the country’s total votes with Meru having 780,858 voters, Tharaka-Nithi (234,618), Embu (337,627), Nyeri (492,046) and Kirinyaga (378,580).

Others are Murang’a (628,416), Kiambu (1,293,309), Laikipia (265,842), Nyandarua (362,357) and Nakuru (1,050,367), totalling to 5,824,020 votes.

But in an interview with KTN at his Tseikuru home Monday, Mr Musyoka said discussions on who will be Mr Odinga’s running mate were yet to take place. His said his decision to back the ODM leader’s presidential bid was not based on what position he secures.

“What matters is, what is in it for Kenyans? Some of us are that selfless. We did not go into it for personal gains. That’s why I decided for the third time to say Raila Odinga tosha for the sake of this country without going into details about what Kalonzo will become,” Mr Musyoka explained.

He went on: “If there will be discussions about running mate, that will follow, but the important thing now is to secure the nation.”

Praises for Kalonzo

Monday, Mr Murathe showered Mr Musyoka with praises, arguing that his entry into Azimio, which also enjoys the support of the three Ukambani governors – Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Dr Alfred Mutua (Machakos) and Prof Kivutha Kibwana – had locked the region in Mr Odinga’s favour.

“If Ukambani is locked, it means even Coast is locked because the region also has a huge chunk of votes from his community, so is Nairobi where both Uhuru and Raila have huge support,” argued Mr Murathe.

Mr Murathe insisted it was DP Ruto’s party that has the headache of choosing a running mate.

“If they give Musalia (Mudavadi), Mt Kenya takes a walk, if they give Mt Kenya, ANC and western walks. For us it doesn’t matter,” he argued.

Mr Murathe said President Kenyatta has declared an all-out war against his deputy and is keen on delivering victory to Mr Odinga.

Fully into campaigns

“Uhuru has stuck his neck out and is fully into the campaigns. Ruto is in for a rude shock. When the President said the race was like a marathon, some people thought it was a joke,” he said.

Mr Odinga’s presidential campaign spokesperson Prof Makau Mutua said so far they were pleased with the response the ODM leader has received in various parts of the country, adding that all regions were key in the campaigns.

“Election of the President of the Republic of Kenya is a national election that is not carried out in one region. We will fight for every vote.

“Obviously we are fighting for the votes of the people of Mt Kenya and you have seen the kind of reception that he has received, the kind he has not received before,” Prof Mutua told a news conference in Nairobi accompanied by the chairman of Mr Odinga’s presidential campaign board Ndiritu Muriithi.

Mr Muriithi, who is also the Governor of Laikipia County, said talks on the running mate were still on as well as the modalities for conducting nominations.

“Those discussions are still work in progress and the prerogative of the presidential candidate,” Mr Muriithi said.

He however, noted that the Azimio coalition council chaired by President Kenyatta would handle the issue of the presidential running mate.

Main concern

Mr Musyoka’s ally, Mr Norman Magaya, who was among a team of experts from Wiper who negotiated the deal, told the Nation that the main concern was to agree on the presidential candidate.

Another source revealed that the coalition was premised on the concept of a three-legged stool bringing together the ruling Jubilee, ODM and OKA parties.

“Initially the argument was that if ODM gets the presidency, then Jubilee gets the running mate. Now that OKA has also come in, it is upon the two (Jubilee and OKA) to decide on the running mate position but of course with the approval of the presidential candidate,” the source said.

The source said Mr Kenneth so far tops the list of Mr Odinga’s possible running mates.

“But should DP Ruto make indications of picking a female running mate, Mzee (Mr Odinga) is also likely to go for a female – preferably youthful to suit the youth-gender card,” the source said, adding that Agriculture CAS Anne Nyaga, Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege and Ms Ngilu had been mentioned as possible candidates.

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