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Inside the vicious Ruto-Raila fight for Mt Kenya votes

How Martha Karua's entry changed Kenya Kwanza and Azimio campaigns

Martha Karua on the campaign trail in Kiambu

Details have emerged on how the naming of Martha Karua as Raila Odinga’s running mate in the 2022 elections forced Deputy President William Ruto and his Kenya Kwanza brigade to change strategy in Mount Kenya.

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The Ruto-led Kenya Kwanza brigade was confident of sweeping a bulk of the over 5 million votes from the region.

This however changed shortly after Odinga settled on the seasoned politician, forcing DP Ruto to marshal his troops to secure the mountain from a sustained Karua onslaught.

Even before Ruto could pacify his troops, some of whom had supported Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki who was elbowed out in favour of Gachagua, Karua emerged into the scene ready to claim a slice of the mountain for Odinga.

Azimio capitalized on Karua's record in the fight for democracy, the gender factor and a clean name free from corruption allegations to rally voters behind her.

Consequently, the Kenya Kwanza camp had two priorities: Rally its troops behind Gachagua and secure the mountain at all costs.

Packaging of the candidates

With her record in the fight for democracy, her accomplishments as a leader, the gender factor and a clean name free from corruption allegations, Karua was easily embraced by the mountain and Kenya at large.

The Kenya kwanza camp on the other hand was keen on moving away from the claims that a Ruto-Gachagua ticket cannot be trusted because of corruption allegations as popularized by the Azimio brigade.

Gachagua was thus packaged as a vocal champion of the region’s interests and a leader who could stand up in the face of intimidation to secure the mountain’s interest.

The Raila-Karua ticket was packaged as a safe pair of hands that will free the country from poverty, corruption.

The mountain became the battle ground as both teams reorganized their itineraries carefully to avoid clashing of events.

Intensive campaigns

Some Kenya Kwanza rallies across the nation were reschedule to free up time for the brigade to respond to the sustained Karua onslaught.

Azimio on the other hand deployed its women leaders including Charity Ngilu, Sabina Chege, Naisula Lesuda among others to accompany Karua in her onslaught.

Jubilee party politicians from the region were also released to focus on building on the gains made in the mountain and market Karua as the candidate who can be trusted to secure the region’s interest.

Mobilizers from both sides were put on high alert and wherever Azimio goes, Kenya Kwanza follows and vice versa as the two camps compete to outdo each other and win votes.

In just five days, the Raila-Karua brigade has combed through Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Embu, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Nyeri and Murang’a.

Within the same period, Kenya Kwanza has also traversed the Mount Kenya region, covering Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Nyeri and Embu, with more rallies lined up.

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