Kenya elections 2022: William Ruto picks Rigathi Gachagua as running mate
Kenya’s Deputy President, William Ruto, has chosen businessman Rigathi Gachagua as his running partner in this year’s presidential race.
Mr Gachagua is on trial on corruption and money-laundering accusations totaling $65 million (£53 million), which he denies.
He is a member of Kenya’s biggest ethnic group, the Kikuyu, whose support is critical in the country’s ethnically fraught elections.
For the first time since independence, neither candidate is Kikuyu.
Mr Ruto’s major competitor, opposition leader Raila Odinga, was also supposed to reveal his running partner on Sunday, but has pushed it out until Monday – the date set by the election commission.
The contest between the two is set to be tight, with President Uhuru Kenyatta supporting his erstwhile foe Mr Odinga against his own deputy.
Following the news, Mr Gachagua said that he would collaborate with Mr. Ruto to fix the country’s struggling economy.
Mr. Ruto is the presidential candidate of Kenya Kwanza (Kenya First), a combination of over ten political parties.
Mr Gachagua has previously worked as a district officer and as President Kenyatta’s personal assistant during his tenure as minister in charge of local government.
He has been a member of parliament for the Mathira seat in Central Kenya since 2017, which has produced three of Kenya’s four presidents: Jomo Kenyatta, Mwai Kibaki, and Uhuru Kenyatta.
Residents of Mr Gachagua’s hometown protested the delay in announcing Mr Ruto’s running partner on Saturday.
With no renowned Kikuyu politician standing for president in the next elections for the first time in history, the selection of a running mate is seen as critical, and has dominated news and social media.
Both Mr. Ruto and Mr. Odinga have set their sights on the Central region, which is likely to play a significant role in determining who Kenya’s next president will be.
Local politicians have urged that whomever is elected to the State House must protect the interests of the community.
Ethnic Kikuyus and individuals from the Central area have enormous power in both the economy and politics.
Candidates understand how important their support will be on August 9th.