What Happens If a Running Mate Drops Out Before August 9? Lawyers Explain

  • Deputy President William Ruto (left) and Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua.
    Deputy President William Ruto (left) and Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua.
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  • The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Secretary-General, Edwin Sifuna, now claims that there are plans in the Kenya Kwanza camp to replace Mathira Member of Parliament, Rigathi Gachagua, as Deputy President William Ruto's running mate before August 9.¬†

    Sifuna's remarks, however, have not been corroborated by anybody from Ruto's camp, as most of his supporters and top leadership remained silent on the issues.

    The remarks also came barely hours after former police spokesperson, Charles Owino, dropped out of the Siaya gubernatorial race, where he had been picked as former Rarieda MP, Nicholas Gumbo's running mate.

    Sifuna went ahead to claim that there was no constitutionally set timeline when presidential or gubernatorial candidates could pick their running mates, noting that it was just an agreement between the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the aspirants.

    While Kenyans.co.ke could not independently verify the claims by the ODM Secretary-General, we spoke to constitutional lawyers Bobby Mkangi and Martin Oloo, who shed light on what the constitutional provisions of changing running mates after the submission deadline.

    Mkangi noted that while the May 16 deadline given by the IEBC had lapsed, presidential hopefuls may alter the choice of their deputy designates when submitting their papers to the Commission.

    Deputy President William Ruto and Mathira Member of Parliament Rigathi Gachagua in Mathira, Nyeri County on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
    Deputy President William Ruto and Mathira Member of Parliament Rigathi Gachagua in Mathira, Nyeri County on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
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    "I know that the formal submission of documents is yet to happen and I think, within rules of fairness, and depending on Kenya Kwanza or Azimio and the aspirant themselves, it is possible to alter the names," he remarked.

    However, Oloo offered a differing opinion, explaining that the Kenya Kwanza presidential flag-bearer and his Azimio counterpart will have to stick to the names they submitted to IEBC.

    "They do not have an option at this stage. As processes are ticking, there was a statutory deadline for submission of a running mate which has since passed. That discussion is supported by political insurgencies but not the law," he noted

    Notably, the two legal minds agreed that under unavoidable circumstances, including a formal withdrawal from the race by a running mate, then Raila Odinga or William Ruto can pick another running mate guided by the law and IEBC.

    "If something materially happens, say Kenya Kwanza declares that Rigathi has resigned, or something serious happens, then it is possible," Oloo stated.

    "Where the aspirant or the person wants to give way, then he or she cannot be forced not to. Between now and the formal presentation of documentation to the IEBC for clearance and even in the run-up to the election, it is possible to make the changes. The problem comes when the ballot papers' printing process has started," noted Mkangi.

    Oloo noted that in the event that a running mate pulls out or resigns in the last-minute, for example in July, the law provides for either presidential or gubernatorial aspirant to run without one. If elected, they will be allowed to nominate their deputies, who will undergo vetting as dictated by the law.

    "The only factor that may call for the postponement of an election is if something happens to the presidential candidate, like passing away. One can be elected without a running mate and subject themselves to a parliamentary process within which he can nominate a suitable deputy president.

    "You cannot be locked out of the race but you can be elected without a deputy governor or one in absentia, just like in West Pokot. A governor can get elected and be given an opportunity to select a deputy within the law," he added.

    Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga together with Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua at a past rally.
    Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga together with Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua at a past Azimio rally.
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