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Martha Karua and Rigathi Gachagua make the cut as running mates

Presidential contenders Odinga and Ruto both pick their deputies from the Kikuyu heartlands and trigger a fierce rivalry in the region

After criticising Kenyan politics as a 'rich boys' club', former Justice Minister Martha Karua has been chosen by Raila Odinga as his running mate ahead of national elections on 9 August (AC Vol 63 No 9, Rivals struggle to balance their tickets).

Announcing his decision on 16 May, Odinga praised Karua's reform record in government, adding that  '… after 60 years [of independence] we cannot excuse the male domination of the executive.'

Outspoken and uncompromising, Karua was dubbed the 'iron lady' by fellow politicians. Her election campaigning skills will be key in the Mount Kenya region which has the biggest concentration of voters in the country.

Odinga's choice of Karua quickly alienated Kalonzo Musyoka who says he will quit the Azimio La Umoja alliance to launch his own campaign for the presidency. Musyoka was Odinga's running mate in his last two bids for the presidency. His exit from Odinga's Azimio alliance makes a second round of voting in the presidentials more likely.

Deputy President William Ruto has chosen Rigathi Gachagua, a first-term MP from the Mount Kenya region, mainly because of his ability to organise mass rallies in that key voting region.

But Ruto's choice might alienate others in his Kenya Kwanza coalition. So, he has been trying to create some new positions for his allies.

After condemning President Uhuru Kenyatta and his chosen successor Raila Odinga for 'ganging up to create plum positions for a few people' in their plans for constitutional reform, Ruto now seems to be following their lead.

Key to Odinga's and Kenyatta's Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) is its expansion of the executive with the creation of a prime minister's and deputy prime minister's position. Its stated aim was to end the 'winner takes all' nature of Kenya's elections – and so reduce the risk of violently disputed polls.

After organising a successful campaign against the BBI, Ruto appears to be concocting his own variation of the expanded executive. It could help him satisfy the ambitions of some of his political allies annoyed by his choice of running mate.

News that Ruto's Kenya Kwanza coalition agreement would create a position of Prime Cabinet Secretary for its principal Musalia Mudavadi should Ruto win the 9 August elections has prompted amusement and synthetic anger from Odinga's camp (AC Dispatches, 24/1/22, Musalia Mudavadi springs January surprise as he backs Deputy President Ruto).

The job offered to Mudavadi, whom Ruto hopes will bring some of the Luhya vote with him, does not exist in the current Executive structure. Leaders from Odinga's Azimio la Umoja camp argue that the offer to Mudavadi is an endorsement of the principle of the BBI.

The coalition agreement between Ruto's United Democratic Alliance (UDA), Mudavadi's Amani National Congress (ANC) and Moses Wetang'ula's Ford Kenya reserves the president and deputy president positions for Ruto's UDA party.

According to the accord filed with the Registrar of Political Parties on 8 May the prime cabinet secretary shall 'assist the president and the deputy president in coordination and supervision of Government Ministries and State Departments.'

The prime cabinet secretary would also coordinate the legislative agenda across all ministries and departments.

For his support of Ruto, Wetang'ula is thought to have been promised the job of Speaker of the National Assembly.

Ruto's power-sharing deal gives Ford Kenya and ANC a combined 30% of the positions in the government including cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries, diplomats, and chairs and directors of state corporations.

Insiders say that the deal allocates benefits to Western Kenya, including completion of all bitumen road projects, 1,000 kilometres of new bitumen roads. Ruto has also promised to revive and modernise the Mumias and Nzoia sugar factories.

Ruto's allies have condemned President Kenyatta and Odinga for 'suspicious secrecy' shrouding their own coalition agreement submitted to the Registrar of Political Parties.

Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua's Maendeleo Chap Chap (MCC) party and his Kilifi counterpart, Amason Kingi's Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) have ditched Odinga's camp to join Ruto's Kenya Kwanza after Azimio officials refused to provide them with copies of the coalition agreement they had signed.

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