Kenya Election 2022: Rigathi Gachagua, Martha Karua chosen as running mates

The two leading candidates in Kenya’s presidential election have chosen running mates from the vote-rich Kikuyu ethnic group to bolster their chances of winning August’s much-anticipated poll.

Deputy President, William Ruto, has picked businessman, Rigathi Gachagua, while former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, has settled for former Justice Minister, Martha Karua.

“The two are worlds apart, save for the fact that they come from the Mount Kenya region,” analyst Javas Bigambo told the BBC.

The Mount Kenya region was home to the Kikuyu community, the support of which could be vital to determining the outcome of the election.

Mr Gachagua was a strong mobiliser and had the ear of struggling Kikuyus, who has been backing Mr Ruto over his plans to address economic grievances.

Ms Karua was a political icon beyond the Kikuyu – and was known for her passion for judicial reforms and campaigns against corruption.

Analysts say that while the intellectual elite might go for the avid anti-corruption campaigner, this election was mostly about economic reforms.

“Both sides are tainted by corruption allegations and that is why none is pointing fingers. Corruption is no longer an issue. It seems to be our way of life and it has become hard to show a strong leader who is not tainted by corruption,” analyst Bobby Mkangi told the BBC.

Mr Gachagua was facing charges of corruption and money-laundering worth $65m (£53m). He denied the charges, and said he was being persecuted by the state for supporting Mr Ruto.

Outgoing President, Uhuru Kenyatta,was supporting Mr Odinga, with whom he famously shook hands in 2018 to signal that they had reconciled after years of political acrimony.

Analysts say that since then, Mr Odinga, a veteran opposition leader who had failed in four previous attempts to win the presidency, had largely ignored all the rot in government.

His choice of Ms Karua as running mate was also an attempt to win the female vote, but Mr Bigambo was not sure how successful she will be.

“She appeals to the women academically and not practically. She only appeals to part of the middle class and the Non-Governmental Organisation community who do not have a strong bearing on the election outcome,” Mr Bigambo said. -BBC

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