Azimio Women’s League and the Maendelo ya Wanawake Organization (MYWO) have declared Martha Karua Tosha to be named Deputy President running mate to former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Support for Karua comes at a time when global trends are favoring women to hold top political jobs in governments.
Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization (MYWO) Chairperson Rahab Mwikali Muiu endorsed Karua for the deputy president position, saying it would make sense to have a woman in the number 2 position considering the sizeable support Odinga enjoys from women.
“Over 4 million women are supporting his excellency incoming President Raila Amolo Odinga, and with that, we’re then saying, surely, with 52 percent on the table, it’s not too much to say, the second in command should be a woman,” Muiu said in a press conference.
Wearing their signature Azimio blue berets emblazoned with an R, the women leaders, drawn from more than 20 parties within the Azimio coalition, endorsed Karua, and described her as a national leader with integrity as the most qualified running mate for Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s running mate.
“Over 4 million women are supporting his excellency incoming President Raila Amolo Odinga, and with that, we’re then saying, surely, with 52 percent on the table, it’s not too much to say, the second in command should be a woman.”
Rahab Mwikali Muiu, Chairperson Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization.
A wave in support of Karua seems to be building up. Top Kenyan political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi, declared Karua as as the consensus running mate.
“The verdict is out: It is Martha Karua as Raila’s Running mate,” Ngunyi declared in a tweet. “I said it in June 2021. And what I saw then, has not changed. She is the one. End of discussion. Thanks to my big sister @mamangilu.”
Ngunyi, a one-time Odinga critic, has emerged as one of his most strategic supporters from the Mt. Kenya region, often posting hard-hitting campaign-style videos on The 5th Estate, his wildly popular YouTube TV channel, which as more than 130,000 subscribers.
Karua, the Narc-Kenya leader popularly known as the Iron Lady, stands out among peers as a leader with national name recognition and a plausible candidate for the position. She is known to be a no-nonsense principled leader, who has shunned corruption. Her position is boosted by a powerful endorsement from Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, the first woman to run for president in Kenya’s history.
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“Today I convened a round table of Azimio Women Movement to discuss how Baba @RailaOdinga will win majority of the Women vote. Women form half of the registered voters in Kenya today. Deservedly we the women unanimously propose and endorse @MarthaKarua as Baba’s running mate,” Ngilu said in a tweet.
It appears Kenyans are also on board with an Odinga-Karua ticket. In an unscientific Twitter opinion poll conducted by Kenyan journalist David Makali, Karua topped the list, garnering 44.2 percent support. In contrast, Odinga’s 2017 running mate and Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, who has demanded the position, garnered 30.2 percent support in the poll.
Twitter polls, however, cannot be considered conclusive because of sampling challenges and lack of control. But with more than 26,000 participants drawn from Makali’s 230,000 followers, this Twitter poll draws a much larger sample than almost every scientific opinion poll and, therefore, should be taken seriously.
Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, long touted to be the most plausible running mate for Odinga, came 4th in the poll, scoring 11.8 percent, 3 points behind Sabina Chege, the youthful Woman Representative for Murang’a County.
The poll did not include Machakos governor Alfred Mutua, who has also expressed interest in the DP position.
Who should Azimio Coalition pick as the running mate for @RailaOdinga?
— David Makali (@davidmakali1) April 18, 2022
Participants answered the question: Who should Azimio Coalition pick as the running mate for @RailaOdinga
Odinga finds himself in a giddy position after gaining full-throated support from President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has drawn top leaders and the Mt. Kenya business community into his camp.
The Mt. Kenya support has lent credence to a perception the region deserves the Deputy President slot, arguing their vote has been the missing ingredient Odinga needs in his State House quest.
If Odinga chooses Karua as his running mate, it will put his opponent, Deputy President William Ruto, under pressure to choose a woman running mate from the Mt. Kenya region, a move that’s likely to destabilize the Kenya Kwanza coalition.
With former Vice President Musalia Mudavadi as his key partner, Ruto is dealing with a delicate balancing act of appeasing the Luhyia vote by naming Mudavadi his number 2, or playing for the Mt. Kenya swing vote.
But with a lack of women leaders with a national appeal within the Kenya Kwanza camp matching Karua’s stature, Ruto may have no choice but choose Mudavadi as his running mate, rewarding his loyalty and making a big play for the Western Kenya vote.
Karua finds herself in a better position than Musyoka. Unlike Musyoka, Karua has not made any demands for the deputy president position, relying instead on powerful surrogates from all parties within the Azimio coalition.
By attempting to strong-arm Odinga into naming him his running mate, Musyoka may have weakened his hand and showed himself as driven by personal ambition than the coalition’s success.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has given the presidential candidates up to April 28th to choose a running mate. Kenya’s general elections are scheduled for August 9, 2022.