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Charity Ngilu takes on Kalonzo Musyoka over push for running mate post

Azimio la Umoja One-Kenya Alliance women league, led by Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu (centre) and Nairobi Governor Anne Kananu (third right), address a press conference at Jacaranda Hotel in Nairobi yesterday. [David Njaaga, Standard]

The women league under Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Alliance wants Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua named Raila Odinga’s running mate.

Speaking at the Jacaranda Hotel in Nairobi yesterday, the women leaders drawn from 26 political parties agreed on the push to have Ms Karua named running mate.

Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu said their resolve is that the coalition should have a woman as the running mate.

“It is possible to have the top leadership of Azimio consider and understand that the Constitution of Kenya calls for 50-50, and therefore our presidential candidate will be considering a woman to be a running mate,” said Ms Ngilu.

Gender Chief Administrative Secretary Rachel Shebesh said Ms Karua is best suited for the position as she is a “committed woman, a national figure and has even vied for the presidency”.

“Martha has been a minister and knows how to run the government. Martha’s record speaks for itself. We think that she would add value not only to Azimio but to this country as a deputy president,” said Ms Shebesh.

The CAS said the Narc Kenya leader’s selection as a running mate will give women hope that they can ascend to the Office of Deputy President.

“She is a committed woman known for her integrity and astuteness. We are now in the negotiation space for her, irrespective of which political party we come from,” she said.

In Kenya’s 59 years of independence, there has never been a woman deputy president, with Chief Justice Martha Koome being the first to get the highest position held by a woman in government.

The push for a woman running mate comes even as Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka insists that he must be Raila's running mate.

Mr Musyoka, who has been a two-time running mate for the ODM leader, said it is only logical that he should be selected as a running mate again.

The battle for running mate is expected to spark rivalry between individuals and members of parties within Azimio.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui believes the running mate position is a preserve of the Mt Kenya region, a factor that Mr Musyoka dispelled on Sunday, arguing that it does not matter the region or tribe a leader should come from.

“We are not blind followers; the region of Mt Kenya expects nothing short of the deputy president. It doesn't matter which part of the region the leader will come from," Mr Kinyanjui said.

Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua has also expressed interest in being Raila’s running mate.

Recently, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga identified a team of technocrats and politicians to identify the right candidate for running mate from the 26 parties in Azimio.

The selection of the running mate through what is known as the national delegates member committee has come under sharp criticism from Makueni MP Dan Maanzo, who claimed that it is a plot to deny the Wiper leader the position and hand it over to someone from Mt Kenya region.

Mr Maanzo said Wiper was not consulted during the constitution of the national delegates member committee, where the president was given leeway to select four members while Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka chose only one member.

Azimio is expected to name Mr Odinga's running mate before the April 28 deadline