Uhuru tactical pitch for Raila, Karua ticket at Madaraka Day fete

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday made a tactical endorsement of Azimio pair Raila Odinga and Martha Karua as his preferred successor.

Speaking at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi, where he led the nation in celebrating the 59th Madaraka Day, Uhuru said Kenyans have a historic opportunity to elect the first woman Deputy President.

“In August this year, if it is the wish of the electorate, we have a chance of a woman shattering the glass ceiling by assuming the second-highest office in our republic,” the President said.

Uhuru was speaking about his administration’s efforts in empowering and building women leadership in what could expose his role in the appointment of Karua as Azimio Coalition presidential running mate.

Raila nominated Karua, the Narc Kenya leader and former minister, as his running mate for the upcoming August 9 General Election ahead of Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka.

Uhuru also praised his handshake with Raila, saying it fostered political stability and accelerated development in his second term, leaving no doubt he supports the pair’s candidature.

For instance, he said, his government built more than 3,000km of tarmac roads in its first term, compared to 8,000km done in the second term and another 6,600km currently ongoing.

“And all this happened because of the political stability achieved because of the handshake,” the President reckoned.

If Azimio wins the presidential contest, Karua will become the first woman in the history of the country to the hold the Office of the Deputy President – the second-most powerful position.

“If our women were part of the liberation struggle, advancing their course intentionally is a duty we owe them and ourselves as a country,” the President said at the solemn event attended by more than 30,000 Kenyans.

Deputy President William Ruto, Raila’s fiercest competitor in the State House succession race, has settled on Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua as his running mate.

Raila and Ruto are the leading presidential contenders, with opinion polls indicating that either of them stands a stance to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“Our first collective national duty is in the forthcoming general election on August 9, 2022. Choose peace and stability over fear; hope over hate and progress over retrogression,” the President said.

In his address, Uhuru said that while women played an integral role in the independence of the country, they have often been relegated and grouped with children and people with disability.

“In fact, the first woman to be appointed as a Permanent secretary happened 24 years after independence,” he said.

He said in his tenure as President, he appointed 11 women to the Cabinet, a demonstration of his resolve to empower women and integrate them in influential leadership positions.

“After 58 years of Independence, in May 21, I had the profound honour of being the first President of the Republic to commence an address with the salutation ‘Madam Chief Justice’ when Hon Lady Justice Martha Koome assumed office as the first woman Chief Justice,” he said.

Besides Koome, the Judiciary also boosts of a female Deputy Chief Justice, chief registrar and many principal judges and presiding judges.

The head of state added that he appointed the first-ever woman major general of the Defence Forces, Fatuma Ahmed, in 2018, as well as the first female Auditor General, Nancy Gathungu, in 2021.

“I am, in deed, proud to have been part of this push for women leadership in our republic,” he said.

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