Raila running mate: Five face vetting panel
The race to pick Azimio-One Kenya leader Raila Odinga’s running mate kicked off yesterday ahead of today’s deadline with four candidates facing the interview panel and a fifth, Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, backing out of the interviews and instead of throwing his weight behind Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka.
The Baringo Senator was among the candidates who were to face the interviewing panel yesterday but opted out of the race at the last minute in a move that could reinforce Kalonzo’s sustained demands to be given the post unconditionally.
Kalonzo has maintained that he should not be subjected to the interviews owing to his seniority in politics and his support for Raila in the last two elections.
Yesterday, sources close to him said that he would not attend the interviews as he is currently in South Sudan on a diplomatic mission and is likely to return tomorrow. The interview panel has until midnight today to present a suitable candidate to deputise Raila, which means Kalonzo could miss out on being interviewed.
Those interviewed yesterday at the Nairobi Serena hotel included Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and his Nakuru counterpart Lee Kinyanjui.
Gideon was expected to face the panel, chaired by former Cabinet Minister Noah Wekesa at 3pm but a Kanu party official showed up instead and declared that the Kanu chairman would not be taking part in the interviews.
“We have received instructions from our national chairman that he will not be appearing,” Okang’o told journalists. “While he is suitable and capable to be the running mate of Raila Amolo Odinga, on this one he is not going to appear having endorsed Kalonzo Musyoka.”
A self-imposed May 10 deadline for picking an Azimio-One Kenya nominee was reached by the selection panel after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission set May 16 as the deadline for parties to submit the names of their presidential candidates and running mates.
Sabina was the first to appear before the panel yesterday. After one hour and 30 minutes of the interview, she told journalists the panel wanted to know more about her and what she has to offer if given an opportunity.
“It was really not an interview but a conversation. The panellists just wanted to know about me and what strength I add to the candidate. I bring the energy to Raila’s team. I’m a young person and I also address the gender equation in his camp,” she said.
The Murang’a lawmaker hails from the Mt Kenya region, which has a rich vote basket that may help Raila get more votes.
Sabina, who has also served as the National Assembly Education Committee and Health Committee chair, said that whatever the outcome, she will respect the decision of the panel.
“It is not about me but about Azimio being able to form the next government,” said Sabina.
Joho, who was the second to be interviewed, also described the session as an interaction with the panelists.
“Remember I also filed my candidature for the presidential bid in the ODM party. I have the ambition of becoming President. I bring the voice of the young people; there can never be a more credible voice for the young people than myself,” he said.
The ODM deputy party leader said he would support whoever will be identified as the most suited for the job.
“For me, whoever is found to be more suited is the ticket which I will support,” he said.
After attending the interview, Karua said she appreciated the opportunity to engage with the team and to be considered for selection as a possible Raila deputy.
“It was a cordial engagement. I am ready to hit the ground and will support the Azimio team,” she said.
Oparanya, who was the fourth to be interviewed, said he was proposed by the ODM party and had not applied for the position of running mate.
Kinyanjui was the fifth to appear before the panel.
Today, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, National Liberal Party Leader Stephen Tarus and Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya are scheduled to appear before the panel.
The panel will present three names in order of priority to Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is the Azimio-One Kenya Coalition chairman.
The team has not revealed what they are looking for in the person they are looking for but Azimio spokesman, Prof Makau Mutua, said experience, ethics and ability to run government will be critical considerations.
“The candidate will have to be presidential, share the Azimio vision and enjoy a smooth working relationship to avoid a repeat of the current situation where the President and his deputy are in conflict.