Inside Politics

Undecided Karua keeps all guessing

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022 02:00 | By
Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua (centre) addresses the press with OKA leaders in Nairobi in January. PD/FILE

Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua continues to keep both friend and foe guessing on her next course of action as the electoral clock ticks towards a key date that will force her to decide on who to work with ahead of the August 9 General-Election.

Karua’s party has under three weeks to strike a deal with either Azimio One Kenya, Kenya Kwanza or any other political formation as the recently amended Political Parties Act requires parties interested in entering into a coalition to ensure such is done four months before the polls.

For this year’s polls, April 9 is the last day to deposit coalition agreements with the Registrar of Political Parties.

Despite the period fast dissipating, she has remained non-committal on what she intends to do, only promising to ensure “the door is open” for any possibility.  

Recently, she was conspicuously missing as the One Kenya Alliance principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Gideon Moi whom she had only signed an agreement to work with a day before, entered into a deal with Azimio La Umoja movement led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga on March 12. As per the agreement, OKA will support Raila’s fifth bid to be the country’s president in the coming polls. 

Her absence during the much-publicised function at KICC fuelled speculation around her fidgeting in a political environment that is fast becoming volatile.

On Monday, she said she was still bidding her time for the right people to work with saying no door had been closed on anyone.

She said she did not hold any hard feelings towards her former colleagues in OKA saying she could still work with them if another opportunity arose. She indicated that the agreement they had signed collapsed once OKA agreed to partner with Azimio. 

“We can still work together without an agreement like we did before. We can still work with others because no one has stopped us from talking with them,” Karua said during an interview with NTV.

She said the OKA agreement they signed did not bar any member from pursuing other political pacts, adding those who joined Azimio were free to do so.

“If a party has negotiated and found a better deal then we cannot stop them from pursuing such. When we signed, we all agreed no one was being imprisoned, any party could get out anytime. If they went ahead to sign elsewhere, then it is fine, our day will come when we will see what is good for us.

I can’t say they betrayed us, it was their right to move out,” she added.

To sort issues

After the Azimio event, Kalonzo said Karua was still with them promising a meeting to sort out concerns that might have arisen within OKA after pledging to support Raila’s candidature.  

Shortly after, however, her name yet again featured prominently ahead of the Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance National Delegates Conference on March 15 at Kasarani where she was expected to attend although she rebutted earlier reports that she was among the anticipated guests.

During the function, party leaders Moses Kuria (Chama Cha Kazi), Mwangi Kiunjuri (The Service Party) and William Kabogo (Tujibebe Wakenya), who are aligned to the Mt Kenya Unity Forum which she chairs, were welcomed to the Kenya Kwanza Alliance where they declared their unconditional support for Ruto’s presidential candidature.

She neither attended the function that saw Ruto crowned as the UDA and by extension Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate in the coming polls. The Alliance also has Musalia Mudavadi (ANC leader) and Moses Wetangula of Ford Kenya.

Yesterday, Kuria implored her to join Ruto’s alliance saying she had a greater opportunity of being picked as the DP’s running mate.

“Pick a side and put on your jersey. I look forward to an imminent Ruto-Karua ticket to save this country from eternal dynastic domination and give hope to millions of children who went to school barefooted,” Kuria wrote in her social media.

During the interview, she said no one had approached her for the running mate position.

If she chooses to go alone as she did in 2013, then she has until June 10 to pick her running mate as it is the last day for presidential candidates and their deputies to present their nomination papers to the electoral agency for clearance.

Karua has not shied away from making unexpected decisions. 

In 2009, she chose her conscience over power, perks, and praises that often come with the ministerial positions dropping the Justice and Constitutional Affairs docket saying her stay was no longer “tenable” after she felt her contribution was no longer being appreciated by former President Mwai Kibaki’s administration.

She is also remembered for walking out on the late President Moi during a function in Kerugoya in 2001 at a time when doing anything contrary to the Head of State’s liking was unthinkable.

She also fought hard for President Kibaki’s controversial victory after the disputed 2007 presidential elections, a stand that has attracted fierce criticism from many quarters but she has stood firm to date.  

Despite that, her boldness has remained unshaken. In 2013, she was the only woman in the presidential ballot although she performed dismally, emerging sixth with 43,881 votes.

She passed the 2017 presidential contest opting for the Kirinyaga governor’s race but lost to Anne Waiguru.

To date, she remains the only woman to ever run for President under the 2010 Constitution.  

Meanwhile, women leaders from Mt Kenya have endorsed her for the running mate position. Under the banner of Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation, the women, drawn from Nyandarua, Kirinyaga, Kiambu, Murang’a and Nyeri, rooted for Karua to deputise President Kenyatta’s successor owing to her wealth of political and leadership experience.

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