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Marende drops Vihiga governor bid after Raila promises Senate Speaker seat

Former Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende during an interview with The Standard at his home in Vihiga on April 27, 2022. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

Former Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende has dropped his interest in the Vihiga governor seat.

This is after Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga fronted him for the Senate Speaker seat should he (Raila) win the August 9 presidential election.

On Monday, May 16, while unveiling Martha Karua as his running mate, Odinga said he’ll support Marende for Senate Speaker position.

The current holder, Kenneth Lusaka, is competing for Bungoma governor seat, a position he held between 2013 and 2017.

Speaking to journalists in Vihiga on Tuesday, May 17, Marende said he was honoured to be fronted by Raila for the Speaker seat.

“I cannot ride two horses simultaneously. Now that two good opportunities have presented themselves, I’m choosing the Speaker option,” he told The Standard, confirming that he won’t be in the race for Vihiga governor in the August 9 General Election.

Marende was running on DAP-Kenya ticket.

According to the former Speaker, “the Senate post is bigger than that of a governor”.

“I was busy at home, when a friend of mine called me, saying that Raila had proposed me for a senior State job,” he said.

Marende was to face off against the incumbent Wilber Ottichilo, who will run on ODM ticket.

Marende says he suspects Raila was convinced by his “competence, ability to serve and faith in devolution”.

“He (Raila) knows I will be an asset in overseeing operations of the devolved units,” said the ex-speaker.

Marende, 66, served as the National Assembly Speaker between 2008 and 2013.

He was elected Speaker on January 15, 2008, getting 104 votes against Francis ole Kaparo’s 99 votes in the first round of voting, and 104 votes against Kaparo’s 102 in the second round of voting.

Prior to his election as Speaker, Marende served as the MP for Emuhaya Constituency from 2002 to 2007.

For Marende to realise his dream of succeeding Lusaka as Senate Speaker, he will need, in the first round of voting, to get at least two-thirds of the total votes in the Senate (68), which translates to around 45 votes.

If he fails to get that number in the first round, the voting will proceed to the second round, where a winner will be picked based on a simple majority.

That would mean that Raila Odinga and Azimio la Umoja must have a higher number of senators to successfully push for Marende’s bid.