NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 25 – Kenyans were glued on their television screens on Monday waiting for the much anticipated second tier presidential debate pitting the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta and his main challenger, Raila Odinga.
The failure by Kenyatta however, not to show up for the debate has elicited mixed reactions from a section of Kenyans who feel that it was a lost opportunity for the head of state to highlight his manifesto and what he intends to do if re-elected in next month’s General Election.
Political scientist and University of Nairobi lecturer, Fred Jonyo has said Kenyatta could have honoured the debate invitation to tone down the political intolerance witnessed in some parts of the country.
“If President Kenyatta would have showed up for the debate and they were shaking hands with his competitor Raila Odinga, the act itself would have really lowered the political temperatures that has been witnessed in some parts of the country,” said Jonyo during an interview with Capital FM News.
Jonyo further said that the decision by Kenyatta to give the debate a wide berth will do little to sway voters.
“Whether Kenyatta showed up for the debate or not, people have already decided and their minds are already made up on whom they will vote for,” said Jonyo.
Wycliffe Obura, a businessman in Nairobi, also said that it was an opportunity lost to articulate his agenda to the Kenyan voters.
“It is so unfortunate that the president did not show up for the debate and yet it is a normal culture for developed democracies to engage in debates. He (Kenyatta) should have at least showed up and explain to Kenyans what he has achieved and what he plans to do if elected,” said Obura.
Others like Kyandi Muoki disagreed, saying the TV debate would not have added value to President Kenyatta’s campaign as he seeks to retain office.
“President Kenyatta stands not to lose anything, whether he showed up for the debate or not, he still has a huge following of supporters who believe in him,” said Muoki.
During the debate, on the issue of having a parallel tallying centre in neighboring Tanzania, the National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential flag bearer Raila Odinga refused to confirm or deny claims that they have a parallel tallying centre in neighboring Tanzania.
NASA has tallying centers In Kenya, in Kenya… and in the clouds,” said Odinga.
There has been no statement from State House on why the President skipped the debate organised by local media houses.