Inside Politics

Karua, Gachagua heighten battle for Mt Kenya vote

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022 00:20 | By
Kenya Kwanza running mate Rigathi Gachagua. PHOTO/Courtesy
Kenya Kwanza running mate Rigathi Gachagua. PHOTO/Courtesy

The endorsement of Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua as Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya presidential running mate has heightened the battle for Mt Kenya in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession contest.

Azimio presidential flagbearer Raila Odinga’s pick came after his rival and Deputy President William Ruto named Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua as his running mate. 

Karua, the former Gichugu MP, comes from Kirinyaga while Gachagua hails from Nyeri.

Data shows in the 2017 elections, Mt Kenya region had a total of 5.3 million votes. 

Nominated MP Maina Kamanda said given the high number of voters, it was impossible for a presidential candidate to ignore the region, which for the first time in history is not producing a serious presidential candidate.

Kamanda says failure by any presidential aspirant to entice the region with a running mate, was encouraging the electorate to vote for competition.

Kamanda says Karua was picked by public demand.

For Rigathi, his nomination places a huge burden on his shoulders of delivering the Mt Kenya vote to Kenya Kwanza brigade against a likely onslaught by President Uhuru, who is expected to raid his backyard in favour of Raila.

Preferred successor

The Head of State has declared he is backing the ODM boss as his preferred successor, and has already indicated he would lead campaigns for him in Mt Kenya to drive out his deputy, who he had insisted is too dangerous for the country over his alleged insatiable appetite for power and questionable integrity.

“Those who think I am afraid of politicking should wait. They will see me on the ground talking my mind and telling the truth. I am not one to be threatened by small things. Why should I be afraid? Where will I be taken?” Uhuru asked.  

Sources intimated to People Daily the President has been waiting for Azimio team to pick a running made so he can hit the ground running to campaign for Raila and his Jubilee Party candidates for other political seats.

History professor Macharia Munene says says though Uhuru will not be on the race, he carries a huge task of delivering the vote considering he is the president and has put his reputation on the line.

Further, given both him and Gachagua have a knack for mobilisation and have cash to spend, the situation puts the lawmaker and Head of State on a collision course as they fight for their respective coalitions.

“Rigathi is a mobiliser. There is no doubt about that and he also has money. Uhuru is a real mobiliser and has a lot of money, too. It is the honours of Uhuru to mobilise and ensure he wins because he has put his name on the line. He will, therefore, pull all stops to ensure Raila wins,” Munene said.  “When Barack Obama was campaigning for Hillary Clinton, he went out of his way and would tell Americans voting for Donald Trump was a vote against him, we have the same situation where a vote for DP is a vote against Uhuru, which he is keen not to happen.”

Uhuru, the Jubilee party leader and chairman of Azimio Coalition Council, has also been instrumental in cobbling up an alliance in favour of Raila, including mediating between the ODM leader and Wiper party chief Kalonzo Musyoka, as well as wiping his backers, eminent persons, ministers and senior government officials from Central region to mobilise support in favour of the former Prime Minister.

Acceptance speech

Rigathi, in his acceptance speech, pledged to fight hard to deliver the Mt Kenya vote. “There are many of us in the alliance who were qualified for this position and any of them would have been up to the task. The trust and confidence you have shown in me is a privilege and I will do my very best to live up to their expectations,” Rigathi said on Sunday after his appointment.

“I will not let you down. I will not let the hustler nation down, I will not let Kenya down,” the MP added.

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