The Deputy President upon taking oath of office shall be expected to stay in office from the time of swearing-in until the next elections. The person can only be removed from office on the same grounds as the President, largely through impeachment or in the unfortunate circumstances of death, or on his or her own volition.
Members of Parliament and analysts interviewed say the selection of a running mate, should be guided by whether the choice is equally capable of running the country, not just one who can support the cast.
Under the new constitutional order the deputy shall also act as President when the country’s chief executive is absent or temporarily incapacitated.
Although none of the presidential aspirants has picked a running mate, names of possible nominees have been floated. Roads minister Franklin Bett and Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey are tussling to be named Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s running mate in Orange Democratic Movement. Other names being floated include Water Minister Charity Ngilu, and Central Imenti MP Gitobu Imanyara.
Eldoret North MP William Ruto has named Environment minister Chirau Mwakwere as his possible running mate although the Matuga MP is also running for Kwale Senate.
It is thought Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has settled for Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa, although the Saboti MP insists he, too, is running.
Presidential candidates enjoy the discretion of picking the running mate, even if through the mechanism set independently by political parties.
The chairman of the House Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee Abdikadir Mohammed advises parties and voters to ensure proper scrutiny. “They (parties) should give serious thought to that position (of running mate). They should understand it is one presidential ticket and the Deputy President would essentially be a substantive deputy should the ticket win,” Abdikadir told The Standard.
Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba said Kenyans had not embraced the radical constitutional change that elevated the Deputy President to a “substantive part of the presidency in an elective sense.”
“I think Kenyans still have the mindset of the running mate as a flower girl for the president,” Namwamba said. He added: “That clearly isn’t he case.”
Safina presidential aspirant Paul Muite said vigorous civic education is needed so that voters appreciate the impact of a presidential ticket.
“You will vote for them as a package, which means the running mate is no longer a person to merely string along but one who can be president,” he added.