Raila Odinga names Martha Karua his running mate; Who is she?

Raila Odinga names Martha Karua his running mate; Who is she?

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader has named Martha Karua his running mate in the run-up to the August 9, 2022 general election.

Karua, the Narc-Kenya party leader will deputise Odinga under the Azimio La Umoja One Kenya coalition.

She becomes the first woman in history to be named a running mate since Kenya gained independence in 1963.

Many pundits have termed Karua as a no-nonsense, veteran of Kenya’s pro-democracy movements of the 1990s.

On June 16, 2001, in her Kirinyaga District (currently Kirinyaga County) when KANU was still in power, Karua, the then Gichugu Member of Parliament, walked out on the late President Daniel Moi who was then addressing a crowd in the district stadium. This was an unusual display of open defiance against Moi, who was then feared and ruled the country as an authoritarian.

She has been an activist for the widening of democratic space and gender issues in Kenya. She has been involved in championing women’s rights through public interest litigation, lobbying and advocacy for laws that enhance and protect women’s rights through her work with various women’s organizations, particularly the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Kenya) and the League of Kenya Women Voters.

Aged 64, she is the daughter of  Jackson Karua and Jospehine Wanjiru from Kirinyaga, Kimunye village. She is the second child in a family of eight, four girls and four boys.

She attended Mugumo primary school, Kabare Girls Boarding School, St Michael’s boarding school Keruguya. She attended Kiburia Girls Secondary School, Ngiriambu Girl’s secondary school, and Karoti Girl’s secondary schools where she passed her East African School Certificate at Karoti Girls High School in Kirinyaga.

She then attended Nairobi Girl’s secondary school for A levels.

She studied law at the University of Nairobi from 1977 to 1980. Between 1980 and 1981 she was enrolled at the Kenya School of Law (KSL)  to start practicing law in Kenya.

From 1981 to 1987 Karua worked as a magistrate in various courts including those at Makadara, Nakuru and Kibera, receiving credit for careful discernment.

In 1987, she left to start her own law firm, Martha Karua & Co. Advocates, which she ran until 2002. At the risk of being blacklisted by the Moi government, she defended several human rights activists

Until 6 April 2009 she was the Minister of Justice, National Cohesion & Constitutional Affairs. She also previously served as the Minister of Water Resources Management & Development and was behind the implementation of the Water Act 2002, which has since then accelerated the pace of water reforms and service provision in Kenya.

Karua contested the 2013 Kenyan presidential election, under the NARC Kenya party ticket. She came in sixth with 43,881 votes in a contested election outcome.

Martha Karua would make a come-back in Kenya’s political scene in the 2017 general election seeking for a Gubernatorial Seat in Kirinyaga County. She lost to the incumbent Governor Anne Waiguru in a heavily contested election after garnering 122, 091 votes against Waiguru’s 161,373 votes.

She will be the first female Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya should Odinga, whom President Uhuru Kenyatta has fronted as his suitable successor, become President after August 9 election.

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Lawrence Baraza is a prolific writer with competencies in Digital Media, Print, and Broadcast. Baraza is also a Communication Practitioner currently spearheading Digital content on Metropol TV's Digital Desk.

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