Narc-Kenya party leader Martha Karua has successfully shed of her status as President Kibaki’s astute defender to become one of his constructive critics.
From the initial quiet campaigns, she has set her bid for the top seat firmly on the ground, with increasing visibility in many parts of Kenya.
Described by political analysts as determined, consistent, principled and strong in character, one of her greatest strengths should be the ability to market herself as untainted and free of baggage.
With her keen intellect and communication skills, she could also appeal to intellectuals and the middle class, who would perceive her as conscious of the needs of a developing country.
Ms Karua’s other strength lies in her ability to connect with the youth, with whom she has been engaging on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, which she updates herself, even from Parliament chambers.
Her leadership and good standing in the eyes of the youth saw her nominated as a role model for this year’s Chaguo la Teeniez Awards. Shortly after her colourful launch of the campaign to State House, Prof Frank Matanga of Masinde Muliro University told the Sunday Nation that Ms Karua may still find it hard to convince Kenyans she has what it takes to become president.
The political scientist argued that the Gichugu MP may not have been on the scene long enough to become president and would fare better as a running mate.
However, Prof Matanga agreed that Ms Karua was in a better position to win the support of fellow women, who would greatly boost her chances.
Article 148 of the Constitution requires a presidential candidate to nominate a Deputy President before the election. Ms Karua is yet to indicate who that person will be, although there were suggestions that Garsen MP Danson Mungatana, who is Narc Kenya secretary general, could be her running mate.
But Mr Mungatana has quietly been gravitating away from Parliament, where he was a vocal government critic, to Garsen, where he wants to be a governor. He told the Sunday Nation recently he was no longer interested in Parliament and would prefer to go for the position of governor, where he has a real chance of working for his people.
But Prof Matanga says whether Mr Mungatana runs with her or not is not as big an issue as her community.
“The community votes as a bloc for a particular candidate and the Central power blockers appear keen on Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta,” he said.