Raila Odinga picks Martha Karua as running mate

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Martha Karua in 2013.

Martha Karua, who ran for president in 2013, has been dubbed the ‘Iron Lady’

One of the frontrunners in Kenya’s presidential election has picked a veteran female politician and one-time rival as his running mate.

Raila Odinga named Martha Karua to the role on Monday, making her the first woman to run on a major political party’s presidential ticket.

Ms Karua is a former justice minister from the Central Region, which is seen as a key battleground in the 9 August election.

She ran for president herself in 2013.

“I still have unfinished business with [the] The presidency, so God-willing one day I will serve in that capacity,” Ms Karua said last year.

Some in the press have dubbed the veteran politician the “Iron lady”. She has been outspoken on corruption in the past, decrying Kenyan politics as a “rich boys club” and backing calls for the International Criminal Court to investigate the violence which broke out after previous elections.

Back in 2007 while justice minister, she accused Mr Odinga’s opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) of “ethnic cleansing” after the universally that followed that year’s disputed election. Mr Odinga called the accusation “outrageous”.

In an attempt to quell the violent aftermath of those polls, a power-sharing deal saw Mr Odinga become prime minister in what some saw as a snub to Ms Karua.

Ms Karua hails from Kenya’s largest community, the Kikuyu, whose support is vital in Kenya’s ethnically charged elections.

For the first time in Kenya’s history, no prominent Kikuyu candidates are in the running for the top office, making the choice of running mate potentially decisive.

On Sunday another Kikuyu politician, Rigathi Gachagua, was announced as the running mate of Deputy President William Ruto, the other main election contender.

Kenyans are guaranteed a new president in August as Uhuru Kenyatta steps down.

He has fallen out with his deputy, Mr Ruto, and backed former arch-rival Mr Odinga, who is mounting his fifth attempt to win the presidency.

Kenya has one of the lowest proportions of femalearians in East Africa – at just 23%.

Ms Karua, 64, is a lawyer by training who won praise before becoming an MP for her work advising human rights listing and championing wider access to clean water.

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