Raila on presidential debate: I cannot share podium with DP Ruto

Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga (left) and his UDA counterpart William Ruto.

Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga (left) and his UDA counterpart William Ruto.

Photo credit: Simon Maina | AFP

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition presidential candidate Raila Odinga has said he will not be attending the presidential debate slated for Tuesday.

Mr Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua will instead attend a town hall meeting at Jericho Social Hall in Nairobi’s Eastlands.

Giving reason for snubbing the debate, the former prime minister – through Professor Makau Mutua, the spokesperson of Raila Odinga Presidential Campaign Secretariat – said he cannot participate in an exercise where his rival is dictating what kind of questions are to be asked.

Prof Mutua claimed that United Democratic Alliance (UDA) presidential candidate and deputy president William Ruto has demanded that the debate should not focus on corruption, integrity, ethics, and governance — the key existential questions that Kenya faces and at the core of the Azimio campaign.

Consequently, he said that a debate devoid of the questions would be an insult to the intelligence of Kenyans.

“He is a man who has no regard for ethics, public morals, or shame. That is why we do not intend to share a national podium with a person who lacks basic decency,” said Prof Mutua in a statement.

“It would be a colossal mistake to reward such a person with a national debate. We will not help his failing campaign. He can explain himself and his poor record to voters without our help,” he added.

He also accused the DP of becoming desperate as his campaign flails and supporters abandon him, and Azmio will not be party to helping the Kenya Kwanza leader’s “ungovernable greed for power”.

“Simply put, our main opponent has proven over the course of his career that he will do and say anything in his ungovernable greed for power. As is well known, our opponent has traversed the country hurling epithets at us and other key national leaders, including vile sexist attacks,” he said.

The Azimio camp also expressed misgivings about the debate structure with opposing candidates joining together on stage, saying it is a bad idea “this year”.

He said debates should typically provide an opportunity for voters to hear directly from candidates for public office, to understand their vision for leadership, and to decide whether the candidate reflects their values.

Granted, this is why they have opted for a televised town hall at Jericho Social Hall in Nairobi with ordinary Kenyans to offer solutions to the challenges facing the country and common people. 

“Our flag-bearer Rt Hon Raila Odinga and his running mate, Hon Martha Karua, will answer questions put to them by the people of Kenya openly, honestly, and free from what would otherwise be nothing more than empty self-serving political theater,” said Prof Mutua.

Why Raila was advised to skip presidential debate


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