Kenyatta to miss televised presidential debate

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta will skip Monday’s televised presidential debate following claims that he was not consulted by the debate organizers. Kenyatta’s main rival, opposition leader Raila Odinga, who had earlier threatened to pull out of the debate, is expected to attend together with six other candidates.

Last week, Deputy President William Ruto and the former vice president skipped the running mates’ debate. Only one candidate showed up. The two main political parties , the ruling Jubilee Party and the opposition coalition, the National Super Alliance (NASA), have already launched their campaign manifestos. They have spent the last few months on the campaign trail seeking to woo the electorate.

On Monday, they will face the electorate in a televised debate ahead of the August 8th polls. Kenyans are eager to watch them go head-to-head.

The Jubilee Party has said that their candidate, President Uhuru Kenyatta, would not attend the debate, arguing that he was not consulted and that they were not in agreement with the debate format. On Sunday, Kenyatta held a 38 minute live chat on Facebook – answering questions sent in by Kenyans.

Kenyatta’s main political rival Raila Odinga told a local TV station, that he would only attend the debate if Kenyatta attended. The debate is split in two segments – in the first segment, six candidates will go head to head and in the second segment the two main candidates according to opinion polls were expected to go head to head.

In Kenyatta’s absence, Raila Odinga will be left to field questions from moderators for an hour.

After the first debate in 2013, Kenyatta had threatened to skip the second debate that year, arguing that the moderators were hostile to him and favoured his opponent, Raila Odinga.

– By Sarah Kimani