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Raila, Karua: Strange bedfellows with rich reform credentials

By Edwin Nyarangi | May 17th 2022 | 2 min read
Azimio la Umoja One Kenya flag bearer Raila Odinga unveils Martha Karua as his running mate at KICC in Nairobi on May 16, 2022. [Standard].

 The decision by Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga to pick Narc-Kenya leader as his running mate came as a surprise to many Kenyans.

Raila and Karua were elected for the first time as MPs Langata and Gichugu constituencies, respectively, during the 1992 General Election and have been strange bedfellows but share reforms agenda credentials. The Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate was elected on a Ford Kenya party ticket which was led at the time by his late father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga while the Narc Kenya leader was elected on Democratic Party then led by former President Mwai Kibaki. This was during the first multi-party General Election.

Their differences came to the fore in 2007 when Raila vied for the presidency in ODM while Karua, who was then a Cabinet minister, strongly defended President Kibaki during the disputed presidential election.

Critics termed the Narc-Kenya leader as the ‘only man standing’ in the Party of National of Unity (PNU) in disdain over her role in ensuring that Kibaki’s controversial win against Raila was safeguarded. Observers say it will be interesting to watch how the two leaders will work as a team.

Yesterday, the Azimio flagbearer said it was time the country had a female Deputy President. He declared that he was happy to have Karua as his running mate bearing in mind her many years of experience in government and her reformist credentials.

The two leaders were on opposing sides of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), with Raila being a strong proponent. Karua expressed misgivings about the entire exercise saying it did not reflect her political persuasion at the time.

In her acceptance speech at KICC, Nairobi yesterday, the Narc-Kenya leader said it was a great moment for Kenyan women who had never been represented in the higher echelons of the country’s leadership despite being the majority. She said women, owing to their numbers, should have a bigger say.

Raila tasked Karua with relooking the Constitution to make it better and relevant to the needs of Kenyans if Azimio takes over power.

Initially, the Narc Kenya leader was working closely with One Kenya Alliance (OKA) principals Gideon Moi (Kanu), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya) and Cyrus Jirongo of UDP. After the split of OKA, Karua together with Gideon, Kalonzo and Jirongo joined Azimio La Umoja.

Mudavadi and Wetang’ula joined the Deputy President William Ruto-led Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

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