NAIROBI, Kenya, July 18 – Running mates of the leading contenders in the August 8 General Election failed to show up for a televised debate Monday night.
Deputy President William Ruto of the Jubilee Party and Kalonzo Musyoka deputising the Orange Democratic Movement party ticket under the National Super Alliance, made good their threats to boycott the debate citing lack of consultation.
Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s running mate took to Twitter Sunday evening affirming the position of the ruling party that its candidates remained unwilling to take part in any debate where they were not consulted.
“I am surprised no one has engaged me on the debate. Courtesy demands that date, time, rules of engagement would have been made available,” DP Ruto stated in a tweet.
On July 5, Capital FM News broke the news of President Kenyatta’s withdrawal from a televised presidential debate slated for Monday next week, with the Jubilee Party’s Vice Chairperson David Murathe taking issue with the format of the show and lack of consultations.
Late on Monday, Harambee Annex issued a statement launching an attack on the organizers of the event, blaming them for deliberately failing to engage participants.
“There have been no meetings to agree on ground rules such as date of debate, dos and don’ts what is expected of participants,” David Mugonyi, Ruto’s Communication Secretary said in the statement.
“We fear no debate. We have made ourselves available to the media before and we will continue to. We can debate all and sundry, including all the so-called NASA principals at one go,” he went on to declare.
Similarly, NASA through its Communication Secretary, Salim Lone, stated it will not participate in the debate, with Capital FM News later learning through Kalonzo Musyoka’s aides that he had flown out of the country.
In the first tier debate, only Japheth Kaluyu’s running mate, Eliud Kariara, turned up after five of his peers failed to show up.
In his appearance before a panel of two at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Kariara appealed to the audience to give them a chance to govern the country, promising sweeping tax reforms if elected.
Riding on the platform of economic empowerment, the independent candidate pitched on increased tax base and vowed to lead a policy reform that would see loopholes in tax collection sealed hence improved returns.
“In our six-point plan, we intend to cut taxes; we intend to increase the taxes. There are many people who make money but they do not contribute to our nation building by sharing their income with the country,” he said.
Kariara said their administration will focus on increasing tax collection by another 40 per cent, to further sustainable development in the nation.
“We actually intend to put in place an integrated database so that everybody making an income is captured and our tax base is increased by at least 40 per cent within the first three years,” he pledged.
Kariara’s appearance for the debate was however surprising after Kaluyu together with two other presidential candidates – Thirway Alliance’s Ekuru Aukot and Michael Wainaina (Independent) – told a press conference on Monday evening that their respective running mates will not show up for the debate.
“We are not sure where the disconnect is because there is no explanation why they have spitted the debates into two. We cannot have our running mates engage in a debate at 5:30pm while the other two are given an opportunity to debate in prime time when everybody is watching,” Kaluyu stated.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Wainaina who insisted that all candidates will have to share a stage.
He later appeared at the venue of the debate alongside Aukot and his running mate Emmanuel Nzai.
Citizen TV’s Hussein Mohammed who was to host Ruto and Musyoka later read a statement on behalf of the organizers saying, the steering committee relentlessly reached out to all campaign teams”.
“On May 9, the steering committee of the presidential debates made preliminary announcements of its intentions to hold a presidential debate. We however embarked on the preparation process because it was clear that a huge amount of resources would be needed to prepare for the debate, despite the fact that there were no formal nominees at the time,” he said.
During a recent case filed by Alliance for Real Change candidate Abduba Dida, it emerged that the organisers would lose Sh100 million in investments should the debates fail to materialize.