Why Martha Karua stands out in Raila’s run for MP

By Otieno Otieno

Kenya’s former Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua has emerged as a serious candidate for Raila Odinga’s vice-presidency ahead of the May 16 deadline for presidential candidates to submit names to the electoral commission .

Ms Karua, a veteran of Kenya’s pro-democracy movements of the 1990s, would top the shortlist of three people recommended for the job of running mate to Mr Odinga by a panel he appointed to interview potential candidates .

She also leads former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Peter Kenneth, a former MP – the other names on the selection panel’s shortlist – in the approval ratings for the job, according to poll results. April opinion commissioned by the Nation Media Group. , the editors of East Africa.

Mr. Odinga, the leader of the opposition who is presenting his fifth presidential candidacy in the August 9 elections with the support of President Uhuru Kenyatta, is still expected to have the final say on who will become his running mate in his Azimio One Kenya coalition. Vice President William Ruto, the other favorite in the race to succeed President Kenyatta, also reportedly at one point toyed with the idea of ​​choosing a running mate.

But the woman most often linked to the position in Dr Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza coalition – Kirinyaga County Governor Anne Waiguru – ranked quite poorly in the Nation opinion poll, ranking far behind her rivals. male Musalia Mudavadi and Kindiki Kithure.

Matching Ms. Waiguru and Ms. Karua as running mates would see them extend their fierce local rivalry to the national stage – with the two having contested Kirinyaga’s seat of governor in the 2017 election. In what is by far the longest saga of election-related legal grievances, Ms Karua challenged Ms Waiguru’s victory all the way to the East African Court of Justice, where judges found that Kenyan courts breached her right to a fair trial and awarded $25,000 in damages. .

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The two are likely to face each other again in the Kirinyaga gubernatorial race should one or both miss out on the vice presidential nomination.

Ms Karua’s rising stature in Mr Odinga’s coalition has particularly sparked a buzz within Kenya’s women’s rights movement, which has stepped up its lobbying of leading presidential candidates to choose running mates.

On Thursday, she was the center of attraction at an event to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization, the umbrella body for local women’s protection groups, in Kisumu. Ida Odinga, the wife of the presidential candidate of the Azimio coalition, was the main guest of the event. Women hold 21.8% of seats in the current Kenyan parliament.

The electoral commission, under pressure from the women’s rights lobby, recently rejected the lists of people nominated by political parties for special seats such as youth, women and people with disabilities for not respecting the rule of two third.

Political parties have also prepared the ground for a better gender balance in the next parliament by entrusting the direct nomination to female candidates selected in their strongholds in recent primaries, thus increasing their chances of winning.

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