Aspirants gunning for the presidency in the August polls have four days to name their running mates, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has declared.
IEBC made the declaration while dismissing Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party’s objection to the April 28 deadline.
The Raila Odinga led outfit had written to the Commission seeking postponement of the Thursday deadline arguing that the presidential contenders have until June to submit names of their preferred running mates.
Makau Mutua, the Spokesperson of the Odinga Presidential Campaign Secretariat, said the initial timeline for the submission of names is between May 29 and June 6, 2022.
But IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati, while responding to the Azimio camp, stated that the choice of running mate is interlinked with the ongoing nomination exercise whose period closes on April 28.
“It is our considered view that by the time the party nomination window closes, presidential candidates should have nominated their running mates. And thereby the commission further stated that, the requirement that presidential and gubernatorial candidates submit names of their running mates by 28th of April 2022 falls within the commission’s mandate,” stated Chebukati.
While setting the deadline, Chebukati noted that the electoral body was guided by the Law and its Election Operation Plan which was published in a special issue of the Kenya Gazette on January 20, 2022.
“…the Commission is cognizant of the fact that in the year 2017, the Commission received the names of the Presidential candidates and their Deputies as well as those of County Governors and their Deputies before the date of registration of candidates. The Candidate Registration Management System bears records vindicating this position. Indeed, this presents a solid precedent and it would be unsafe to depart therefrom,” he added.
Odinga and Kenya Kwanza arch-rival William Ruto are touted as front runners in the race to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta who has less than four months in office.
Even as the leaders traverse the country to sell their presidential bids, the running mate position has remained a headache for both.
Pundits say whoever each of the presidential hopefuls settles on, could make or break their presidential ambitions.
With this in mind, the leaders have been holding their cards close to their chests even as it becomes clear by the day that whoever picks a running mate from the vote-rich Mount Kenya region, where Uhuru hails from, has a better chance of forming the next government.
Last week, Azimio, that has the backing of President Kenyatta, formed a seven-member panel to help Odinga settle on a suitable running mate.
There are speculations that Odinga is keen to pick a running mate from Mt Kenya even as Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka maintains that the former prime minister should pick him as his deputy. Some of the politicians seen as Odinga’s potential running mates from the region include Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth and Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui.
On the other hand, Ruto is under pressure to pick Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader Musalia Mudavadi as his running mate. Mudavadi joined forces with Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party to form the Kenya Kwanza coalition in January this year. Mudavadi hails from the deeply divided western region voting block.
Some of the politicians seen as Ruto’s potential running mate from Mt Kenya are Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, Kandara’s Alice Wahome, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, who recently led the Democratic Party into Kenya Kwanza, is also on the list.