Race for Raila Odinga's deputy intensifies in Mt Kenya

ODM Leader Raila Odinga during his celebration by Hekima Kaka at Vila Rosa Kempinsky in Nairobi on Friday night October 16, 2021. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga’s forays in Mt Kenya have triggered jostling by local politicians for the running mate slot.

Governors Nderitu Muriithi (Laikipia), Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru) and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth have maintained their presence around Raila, raising speculation about their game plan in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession race.

Cabinet Secretaries Mutahi Kagwe (Health) and Peter Munya (Agriculture) are also being mentioned as possible choices.

National Assembly Deputy Majority Whip Maoka Maore said the region will not decide for Raila who will be his running mate.

Maore said the ODM leader will have a free hand to choose the person he is comfortable to work with to avoid friction in future. He cited the case of President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto who are not in good terms.

“We are going to leave it to Raila to look around and settle on someone he has chemistry to work with,” the Igembe North MP said.

“We don’t want a similar situation that we have between Ruto and the president. We will not sit as a community to decide it is so and so to be his running mate. Such arrangement make those picked for the number two position feel they are equal partners with the president."

Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni said there would be a lot of consideration before settling on who to deputise the ODM leader.

He warned leaders against angling for the running mate position as an exit strategy from their current positions.

The lawmaker labelled some of the names being flouted as political rejects that cannot help Raila win Mt Kenya support.

“Some people are angling for the position yet they are political rejects. The first consideration is that you have to accepted within your unit before you can position yourself for a higher office,” said Kioni.

“Those seeking to be president, if they make the blunder of picking political rejects, they will also be rejected at the ballot. Those who have already sensed defeat in their current seats and are now looking at this opportunity as an exit strategy must also forget about it,” he added.

Governor Muriithi said it was upon Raila to choose his running mate. He noted that popularity, track record and integrity will be the main consideration for a winning presidential ticket.

“As we look into the future, we look at people’s track record, integrity and technical competence because it is not about sloganeering but solutions to problems Kenyans have,” he said. “I am sure Raila’s strategists would be looking at the best scenario that result into a win."

Agriculture CS Munya announced that Party of National Unity (PNU) will work with ODM to form the next government, further fueling speculation whether he was angling for the running mate slot.

“We are not folding up but we are going to work with ODM. Just like Jubilee, we are also in the government that will be formed in the next dispensation,” said the CS. “We shall field candidates all over Mt Kenya like any other party but on presidency, we shall support Raila." 

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