Politics

Raila's headache in picking running mate from Mt Kenya

Raila's headache in picking running mate from Mt Kenya

Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga could face an uphill task in picking a running mate should he decide to team up with one from Mt Kenya.

The Mountain is sharply divided between East and West, which poses a challenge to any presidential candidate seeking a deputy from the region.

Those mentioned as possible candidates include former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi and Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya.

Also floated as a possible deputy presidential candidate is Narc Kenya chairperson Martha Karua, who was named the spokesperson of Mt Kenya Unity Forum, a caucus of the region’s leaders including Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and former Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri.

While Mr Kenneth has united the West, Mt Kenya East is torn between Mr Munya and Mr Muriithi. Both Mr Munya and Mr Muriithi are both from the Party of National Unity, which introduces an element of internal rivalry.

During the Mashujaa Day celebrations at Wang’uru Stadium in Kirinyaga, Mr Odinga reminded Mt Kenya region that he campaigned for Mr Kibaki in 2002 after an accident that had immobilised the opposition candidate.

The running mate debate went a notch higher on Tuesday when Mr Odinga addressed leaders at Chuka in Tharaka-Nithi.

Mr Josphat Murangiri, the Njuri Ncheke secretary-general in charge of operations, urged Mr Odinga to pick Mr Munya as his running mate.

He warned that Mt Kenya East would not back him if he picked one from the West. Unity in the Mountain has been elusive with the East insisting that it wants to chart its own path.

The East claims the West has been favoured over the years as the region produced three presidents.

“As a region, we believe Mr Odinga is a capable leader but we urge him to pick Mr Munya as his running mate. If you won’t pick one of us, we won’t be with you,” Mr Murangiri said.

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi is reportedly lobbying for Mr Muriithi.

“Of all the names floated to deputise Mr Odinga, the Laikipia governor is the most qualified to take the mantle after his uncle’s (President Mwai Kibaki) sterling performance between 2003 and 2012,” said Devolution Empowerment Party secretary-general Mugambi Imanyara.

Mr Kenneth’s allies, meanwhile, say the former Gatanga MP is the best for the position.

MPs Muturi Kigano (Kangema), Nduati Ngugi (Gatanga), Mary wa Maua (Maragua), Peter Kimari (Mathioya) and Wangari Mwaniki (Kigumo) urged Mr Odinga to pick Mr Kenneth since the ‘handshake’ enjoys a massive following in Murang’a.

Mr Kenneth said he decided to join the Odinga wing “since our Mt Kenya people have demanded that I do so to reciprocate the immense help he has been to our President”.

“The ‘handshake’ enjoys support in 71.4 per cent of the constituencies in Murang’a. Deputy President William Ruto has only two MPs (Ndindi Nyoro in Kiharu and Kandara’s Alice Wahome), which accounts for 28.6 per cent,” he said.

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