The Mount Kenya Foundation will unveil Raila Odinga’s running mate in February 2022.
It will be a month after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) publishes a notice of the General Election and around the time public officers intending to vie for elective posts are expected to resign.
Political analysts see this as a key strategy by Mt Kenya leaders and tycoons who want the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The revelation comes days after Mr Odinga’s 2022 presidential bid was endorsed by Mt Kenya power brokers, who said “Kenya is safe under him”.
While it’s the prerogative of the presidential candidate to pick their running mate, it would appear the Mt Kenya group is pushing Mr Odinga to name a running mate from the region to secure their support.
MKF vice-chairman Titus Ibui and four governors – Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua), Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia), Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru) and James Nyoro (Kiambu) – said they will rally the region to support Odinga.
The foundation and top business leaders in the region have the blessings of President Uhuru Kenyatta to support Mr Odinga.
President Kenyatta’s second and final term will end in August next year and the region is repositioning itself to be part of the next government when he leaves office.
Mr Odinga will hold crucial meetings with political leaders in Mt Kenya and will meet MPs first and then senators.
A senior MKF member told the Nation that the group had consulted on who to endorse as Mr Odinga’s running mate.
“We want a serious running mate from Mt Kenya and already we have identified him and we’re only waiting for the opportune time to make his name public,” said the member of the MKF inner circle, who did not want to be named as he is not the official spokesperson of the group.
“We can’t mention his name at this time. We don’t want to expose him to unnecessary political bashing as we have elaborate plans to unveil him before the ODM leader.
“We know what we want in the forthcoming government and as a foundation, we shall unveil Mr Odinga’s running mate in February 2022.”
But the member, an influential key player behind the scenes in the negotiations, said all is set to unveil the running mate.
Contacted by Nation.Africa, ODM chairman John Mbadi said the discussions on Mr Odinga’s running mate are top secret and the party is not willing to discuss such with the media at the moment.
Mr Mbadi however said they are looking for a person who will not only bring votes to the party but will also help unite the country.
“We are open and discussing with friends and those who mean well for our country. We will only pick a person who can help in the unity agenda,” Mr Mbadi said.
The endorsement of Mr Odinga, the MKF official who spoke confidentially, was the best gift the community could give the ODM leader for his relentless fight against corruption and for endorsing President Mwai Kibaki in 2002.
Asked why Mt Kenya leaders and tycoons were fronting Mr Odinga, he responded: “Some of the leaders seeking to succeed President Kenyatta have been mentioned in corruption scandals and can therefore not be trusted to fight the vice, which is crippling the economy.”
The member said MKF will continue talking to all parties.
“We’re open to further talks with political leaders who want peace and unity to prevail in every corner of this country during and after the 2022 elections and that is the only way the economy can get back to its feet,” he said.
“We have finished with Baba (Mr Odinga) and on Friday (today) we shall meet One Kenya Alliance (OKA) political leaders Kalonzo Musyoka, Gideon Moi and Musalia Mudavadi at Safari Park to extend the same negotiations.
“If we leave OKA outside our strategy, it will be an exercise in futility to endorse Mr Odinga and it could turn out to be one of biggest undoing ahead of the 2022 elections.”
Young people and the business community in Mt Kenya and beyond, he said, were happy with MKF’s move to endorse Mr Odinga.
But Nakuru MCAs campaigning for DP Ruto said the endorsement of Mr Odinga by Mt Kenya leaders and tycoons was like a stillbirth and was doomed to fail at the ballot box.
“These so-called Mount Kenya Foundation leaders will have the shock of their lives come August 2022 as DP Ruto commands the majority of support in the Mt Kenya region compared to Mr Odinga,” said Kabazi MCA Peter Mbae.
By Nation Africa