Kenya’s presidential candidate Odinga says he won’t take part in debate
Nairobi, (UrduPoint/Pakistan Point News – July 24, 2022): One of Kenya’s two main presidential candidates, Raila Odinga, will not take part in an upcoming election debate, his campaign team said on Sunday, accusing his main rival of try to avoid certain subjects such as corruption.
Odinga, 77, a former prime minister, and Vice President William Ruto, 55, are the main contenders in the August 9 presidential poll.
But in a statement announcing that Odinga would boycott Tuesday’s debate, his campaign spokesman accused Ruto of trying to duck discussion on key issues.
Ruto “demanded that the debate not focus on corruption, integrity, ethics and governance – the major existential issues facing Kenya,” Odinga’s spokesperson said in the statement.
“Any debate without these questions would be an insult to the intelligence of Kenyans. That is why we do not intend to share a national podium with someone who lacks basic decency,” he added. .
Instead, Odinga plans to participate in a televised town hall meeting in an eastern neighborhood of the capital Nairobi with “ordinary Kenyans”, according to the statement.
Debate organizers said they “continue to engage all stakeholders, including the various presidential campaign teams.”
“As per presidential debate guidelines, we have shared the topic areas with all candidates and moderators will endeavor to cover all of these topics within the allotted time frame,” the statement said.
The debate, scheduled for six hours, would continue again on Tuesday, organizers added.
– ‘A fair opportunity’ – Odinga’s announcement follows a letter sent Thursday by Ruto’s director of communications to the organizers of the debate.
He said he was “ready to answer any questions and speak on any subject that arises during the debate”, but added that his presence was “conditional” on certain subjects.
“We hope the moderators will allocate equal time to issues affecting Kenyans and also give contestants a fair opportunity to address them,” the letter reads.
“To this end, we wish to know in advance the number of minutes that will be allocated to the respective interventions, including but not limited to Governance and Integrity, Agriculture, Health, MSMEs and manufacturing, housing, digital economy, foreign policy, etc. etc.,” he continued.
Debate organizers insisted that “moderators will select the questions to be asked and will NOT share them with the contestants.”
“They will not meet with any of the campaign teams or candidates,” they added in the statement.
Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta can no longer run and has endorsed Odinga over his deputy of nine years after an acrimonious falling out.