The President, in an address yesterday to religious leaders drawn from all Mt Kenya counties, for the first time lifted the lid on the reason for his choice of Mr Odinga’s running mate that generated so much political heat that at one point Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka bolted from the coalition.
President Kenyatta had in a pact with Mr Odinga retained the right to appoint the Azimio coalition running mate, on the understanding that he would offer his backing for the ODM party leader’s presidential candidacy.
"I settled on Martha Karua not because she is my friend, in fact you all know Martha and myself hardly agreed on anything there before. She even ran against me in 2012. But I settled on her because I have full confidence that our community is safe in her hands,” said the President.
He added that Ms Karua has the ability to unite Mt Kenya region based on the passion with which she defends the community whenever it is under political attack.
He told the over 1,500 clergy that the Narc-Kenya leader emerged favourite over a crowded field that also included Mr Musyoka and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth due to her integrity and principles.
The President also waded into the events that preceded after the nullification of his victory by the Supreme Court in 2017, recalling a tense meeting he had with his deputy William Ruto at State House.
He confirmed DP Ruto’s revelation in a leaked audio tape that he was ready to give up his quest for a second term in office stating he could not withstand bloodshed that was anticipated following an election stalemate.
“Even if I was slapped because of my decision to resign, I would have asked them to slap the other side… I did not have space for war. There can be no development without peace and stability.”
“Presidency is not more important than human lives. Hizi viti umeona tumekalia si muhimu sana kushinda maisha za binadamu (These seats we occupy are not more important than the lives of human beings,” the President told the clergy. DP Ruto told Kikuyu elders at a meeting on Friday last week at his Karen residence that he almost slapped the President following indication that he wanted to give up the presidency and avoid taking part in the repeat poll that was boycotted by the opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) presidential candidate, Mr Odinga.
The President said he is ready to quit power after the August 9 polls, discounting claims that he would seek to cling on to a position of influence if the Azimio coalition won the elections. "I am longing for August 9, I cast my vote for Raila Odinga and go home. I have served my 10 years and have no interest extending my time in office even for a day.”
The position of Mr Odinga’s running mate attracted a number of candidates including Narc-Kenya leader Charity Ngilu, Murang’a Woman representative Sabina Chege, Agriculture CS Peter Munya, governors Wycliffe Oparanya, Hassan Joho, Lee Kinyanjui and Stephen Tarus (National Liberal Party). However, a panel set up by the coalition settled on Ms Karua.
Mr Odinga, while unveiling Ms Karua as his running mate in May, described her as a comrade in the struggle with a reform identity that would add value to the ticket.
“The President had invited us to State House just to seek divine intervention so that there will be peace during the polls. He also asked us to pray so that God can give us the right leader who will succeed him," said Akorino Archbishop Moses Gichangi from Kirinyaga.
The leaders also prayed for the President and blessed him as he prepares to hand over power to the one who will succeed him after the August 9 polls.
The bishop said the President was jovial as he interacted with spiritual leaders for hours.
“In 2017 everybody knows what happened and we reached a point where the 2007/08 post-election violence was about to repeat itself. I do not speak of things that I cannot repeat tomorrow or deny later,” said the President in his Kikuyu mother tongue.
He recalled post-election protests that had started turning violent.
“God is great because even after they (opposition leaders) swore themselves in, thinking I would send police officers to deal with them, I did not do that. I said let them do it, I knew there would be bloodshed and loss of lives,” he revealed.