Dozens of envoys to attend Raila-Ruto debate

At least 23 representatives of foreign missions, including the US and the United Nations, will attend the presidential debate to be held tomorrow (Tuesday).

The envoys will attend the event involving State House hopefuls at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) from 4pm to 10pm, said Mr Clifford Machoka, the head of the presidential debate secretariat.

Envoys from Germany, Ukraine, Switzerland, Algeria, Argentina and Australia have also confirmed they will attend.

The others are from Congo, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Finland, Jordan, Korea, Malaysia, Netherlands, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Sweden.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has cleared four candidates to contest the presidency in the August 9 elections.

They include Raila Odinga of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party, Deputy President William Ruto of UDA, which is under the Kenya Kwanza coalition, Mr George Wajackoyah of the Roots Party and Agano Party’s David Mwaure.

Organisers have divided the debate into two – the first involves candidates with less than five percent popularity in the recent opinion polls and includes Mr Wajackoyah and Mr Mwaure.
It will be beamed live from 4pm to 7.30pm.

The second has Mr Odinga and DP Ruto, the two frontrunners in the August elections who have polled at least five percent in the latest opinion polls and their exchange will air from 8pm to 10pm.

Campaign secretariat

But there are doubts about whether Mr Odinga will participate, after his campaign secretariat issued a statement on Sunday indicating that he will not attend.

Mr Wajackoyah has also threatened not to turn up for the debate unless it’s held at once with all the four candidates present, with the organisers indicating that the debate will go on as originally planned.

But DP Ruto’s and Mr Mwaure’s teams have indicated that the two candidates will attend the debate.

Mr Odinga’s team is instead organising a parallel town hall session at the Jericho social hall to be attended by his running mate Martha Karua where they will field questions from Kenyans on the Azimio manifesto.

The reasons for Mr Odinga’s decision to skip the debate were articulated in a statement issued by the spokesman of the Raila Odinga campaign secretariat, Prof Makau Mutua.

Public morals or shame

Prof Mutua explained that Mr Odinga does not want to share a podium with DP Ruto, whom he described as a man who has no regard for ethics, public morals or shame.

Although Mr Odinga has not come out publicly to confirm Prof Mutua’s comments, politicians who accompanied him yesterday at public rallies demanded that he skip the debate.

The presidential debate model was borrowed from the US, one of the most developed democracies in the world. The first debates happened in Kenya ahead of the March 2013 General Election.

The second debate was held ahead of the August 2017 elections but President Uhuru Kenyatta skipped it.

If Mr Odinga and Mr Wajackoyah fail to turn up for the debate, organisers may have to rethink its format.

But they were mum on whether they had reached out to Mr Odinga about how the issues he had raised could be addressed.

The four presidential running mates had their moments on Tuesday last week.

Ms Karua (Azimio) faced off with Rigathi Gachagua (UDA) from 8pm to 10pm after Justina Wamae (Roots Party) and Ruth Mutua (Agano) had squared off from 4pm to 7.30pm.

Credit: Source link