Kenya’s Opposition Leader Names His Running Mate Ahead of August Polls

Kenya’s current opposition leader and former Prime Minister Raila Amollo Odinga has named Martha Karua as his running mate ahead of the general elections. This comes a day after his main competitor William Ruto named Rigathi Gachagua, the Member of Parliament for Mathira Constituency, as his running mate.

With less than three months to the general elections in Kenya, presidential candidates are racing against time to name their deputy presidential candidates before the 16th May midnight deadline set by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Speaking at the Kenya International Conference Centre (KICC), Raila Odinga said that Martha Karua stood with him during the struggle for multiparty democracy in the late 1990s.

“In 1990, for instance, I was arrested and placed in detention without trial. At that time, very few lawyers were prepared to represent me, but this woman, then a young lawyer, led a team of 27 lawyers, to defend my illegal detention,” Raila said.

Raila further heaped praise on her for being a fighter, not a quitter.

Honorable Martha Wangari Maathai was appointed as a magistrate at the age of 24, but she later left to practice law. She then became one of the youngest women MPs when she clinched the seat for Member of Parliament for Gichugu Constituency in 1992.

She then became one of the founding members of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) that defeated KANU’s presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta in 2002.

Karua served as MP for 20 years, and served as cabinet minister for 6 years. Martha Karua also served as a leader for the League of Women Voters for a period within which she won numerous awards.

Martha Karua is famous for fighting for democracy, an ideology that matches Raila’s left wing position in politics. She has consistently fought for women’s rights and has acted as the legal representative for several human rights activists. The NARC leader was also part of Kibaki’s side that negotiated with Raila’s team, mediated by Koffi Annan, after the post-elections violence of 2008.

Karua vied for Presidency in 2013 after serving in cabinet of the coalition government headed by Kibaki and Raila Odinga between 2008 and 2012. She finished fifth with less than 50K votes, but she did not give up. In 2017, she vied for the gubernatorial seat for Kirinyaga County, which she lost narrowly to the current governor Anne Waiguru.

One of the contestants for Raila’s running mate position, Kalonzo Musyoka, decided to go alone to the ballot, naming Andrew Sunkuli as his running mate. Other applicants, Sabina Chege, Charity Ngilu, Peter Kenneth, Peter Munya, and Hassan Joho have agreed to support Martha Karua.

Raila also named his shadow cabinet ahead of the general elections. Peter Munya was highlighted to retain his current position as Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture. Hassan Joho will be Cabinet Secretary for Lands, while the outgoing Kakamega County governor Wycliffe Oparanya will be the Cabinet Secretary for Treasury if Raila wins the Presidency.

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