William Ruto picks Rigathi Gachagua as running mate

Kenyan Vice President William Ruto, one of the front-runners in this year’s presidential election, has chosen businessman Rigati Gachagua as his running mate.

Mr Gachagua is facing trial on corruption and money laundering charges worth $65m (£53m), which he denies.

He is from Kenya’s largest community, the Kikuyu, whose support was crucial to Kenya’s racially charged elections.

For the first time since independence, neither favorite is Kikuyu.

Opposition leader Odinga, Mr Ruto’s main rival, was also due to announce his running mate on Sunday, but has postponed it until Monday – a deadline set by the electoral commission.

The rivalry between the two is expected to come to a close, with President Uhuru Kenyatta backing his former rival, Mr Odinga, over his own deputy.

After the announcement, Mr. Gachagua said he would work with Mr. Ruto to address the country’s ailing economy.

Mr. Ruto is the presidential candidate for the Kenya Kwanza (Kenya First) coalition, which consists of more than 10 political parties.

Mr. Gachagua has served as a regional officer and as a personal assistant to President Kenyatta during his tenure as Minister of Local Government.

Since 2017, he has been a member of parliament in the Matila constituency in central Kenya, which has produced three of Kenya’s four presidents – Jomo Kenyatta, Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Kenyatta.

On Saturday, residents of Mr Gachagua’s hometown protested the delay in nominating Mr Ruto’s running mate.

With no prominent Kikuyu politician running for president in the upcoming election for the first time in history, the choice of running mate is seen as crucial and has dominated headlines and social media.

Both Mr Ruto and Mr Odinga have their sights set on the central region, which is expected to have a big say in who becomes Kenya’s next president.

Politicians in the region insist that whoever enters the state legislature must safeguard the interests of the community.

The Kikuyu people and the people of the wider Midlands have a huge impact on both the economy and politics.

Candidates know their support on Aug. 9 is critical.

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