, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 5 – The two ‘horses’ in the race for State House, President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, have now opted out of the presidential debate.
Odinga joined President Kenyatta in taking issue with the proposed debate format and in refusing to RSVP for the debate on account of the short notice given by the organisers.
Speaking to Capital FM News, Senior Advisor to Odinga – Salim Lone –said it would be impossible to have a substantive debate on the issues of the day with eight candidates on the podium at the same time and all within the primetime constraints.
“How do you really get into the meat of things in just two minutes each?” he posed.
Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe had earlier on Wednesday told Capital FM News that President Kenyatta would not take part in the debate given “insufficient consultations” and on account of the format.
Four of the other presidential candidates – Abduba Dida, Ekuru Aukot, Michael Wainaina and Japheth Kaluyu – are however adamant that all 8 candidates must share a stage in the interest of equal opportunity.
A position Dida feels so strongly about he moved to court. He wants the court to compel just such a format or else order the debate off all together.
On Wednesday, in response to President Kenyatta and Odinga’s regrets, Aukot, Wainaina, and Kaluyu urged them to reconsider their positions accusing them of exhibiting cowardice.
“It’s an act of cowardice that is premised upon the fact that they really don’t want to face other presidential candidates who met the same constitutional test. We see their action as being disrespectful.
“We would really like to encourage them to come out and debate us on ideas, regardless of their popularity or our popularity, let’s debate ideas because that’s where Kenya has reached now,” Aukot said.