I won't attend panel interview for Azimio running mate, says Kalonzo

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka with his Narc-Kenya counterpart Martha Karua after signing the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition agreement on March 11 in Nairobi. [File, Standard]

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka yesterday said he will not attend any interview to be considered for the position of Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya presidential running mate.

Mr Musyoka told The Standard, in a telephone interview, that the planned interview by a selection panel formed two weeks ago to help Azimio presidential flagbearer Raila Odinga to pick a running mate will be ‘demeaning to his stature’.

“I want to tell all Kenyans that I will not attend the said process. I find the entire thing demeaning to my person and will therefore distance myself from it,” he said.

The former vice president spoke a few days after he told KTN News that the Azimio la Umoja brigade knew he was the most suitable to be Mr Odinga’s running mate, but was involved in an unnecessarily circuitous process meant to achieve nothing much.

Last week, the coalition put together a seven-member selection panel mandated to vet those interested and find a running mate. The vetting process is expected to begin today.

The seven-member panel comprises Bishop Peter Njenga, Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth, Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua, Michael Orwa, Dr Noah Wekesa, Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa and Beatrice Askul Moe.

It is expected that the selection and vetting process will be completed by May 10, after which Mr Odinga will unveil the successful candidate to the public. All presidential candidates are expected to submit the names of their running mates to IEBC by May 16.

According to a statement signed by the selection panel secretary, Elizabeth Meyo, “all eminent Kenyans being considered for this important position of service to Kenyans will be meeting the selection panel on various days.”

Mr Musyoka’s allies have also urged him to snub the process if he is called for an interview. 

Kathiani MP Robert Mbui said the idea of interviews is mere speculation and the panel cannot subject individuals who meet the threshold of being deputy president to interviews.

“I can tell you for a fact that we would not allow interviews because the kind of people who are supposed to be deputy president cannot be called to sit for an interview. It doesn’t make any sense,” said Mr Mbui.

He said it would make logical sense for the running mate to come from One Kenya Alliance (OKA), given that the presidential candidate is from ODM and the chairperson of the Azimio Council (President Uhuru Kenyatta) is from Jubilee Party.

“The idea was to form a three-legged stool that aims to ensure that everybody’s interests are taken into consideration. Obviously, the third position, which is that of the deputy president will have to go to One Kenya Alliance, otherwise, there would be no fairness,” said Mr Mbui.

Kitui Central MP Makali Muli shares Mbui’s sentiments, saying it is baseless to conduct interviews when the reputation of the individuals eyeing the position of running mate are well known.

“His Excellency Kalonzo Musyoka has been a vice president in this country and has been Raila’s running mate twice. All that time, he was able to assume those offices without going for interviews. He was picked on the basis of his strengths and experience,” said Mr Muli.

According to the MP, it is important to have a running mate who pulls in numbers, adding that none of the other contenders has the potential of pulling in “a solid block of votes” as Mr Musyoka.

Mr Musyoka has been pushing for his selection as running mate, saying it’s the obvious choice to hand Azimio victory in the coming elections.

“If we were to tell each other the truth, and everyone in our team knows the right thing to do, I do not understand why anyone would ask me to apply for the position of running mate. Did Raila apply to be the flag bearer?” posed Mr Musyoka during a recent interview on KTN News.

The contention over the position in Azimio attracted a Kenya Kwanza brigade in search of spoils.

Deputy President William Ruto’s allies came to Mr Musyoka’s defence, saying he was being disrespected for being subjected to vetting.

“They think Kalonzo is someone to fail and to be stepped on. Kalonzo should have people around him who help him decide on the way forward,” said United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Chairman Johnstone Muthama on Sunday.

Potential candidates for Azimio running mate include Mr Musyoka, Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege and Kieni MP Kanini Kega.