On the 5th of July 2017, the two primary Kenyan presidential candidates, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee Party and Mr. Raila Odinga of NASA, indicated that they would not be in a position to attend the upcoming scheduled presidential debate. The response from Kenyans was not surprising. As expected, the majority of citizens were disappointed and felt that they were entitled to a debate between the two leading candidates. Most Kenyans were of the opinion that President Uhuru and the NASA presidential candidate Mr. Raila Odinga must participate in the televised event.
On July 24th, the Kenyan presidential debate was aired on many Kenyan television channels. Prior to the debate, a panel of political analysts raised questions on the possible availability of the two primary presidential candidates. Most of the members of the panel were of the opinion that Kenyans deserve a committed president who would show up for the country. According to the analysts, the debate would be the eye opener for many voters in Kenya. It was, therefore, the best chance for President Kenyatta and Raila Odinga to sell their success stories to Kenyans.
Agenda of the Debate
Facilitated by Linus Kakikai of NTV station and Joe Ogeyo of KTN, the presidential debate focused on addressing major societal issues in Kenya. Among the issues addressed were the high cost of living, corruption, and global warming. Asked what he would do to transform the lives of the common citizens in Kenya, Mr. Raila Odinga stated that he would work on implementing policies to cut down the cost of flour and some of the prominent and basic cooking items like rice and cooking oil. In his statement, Mr. Odinga added that he would address the issue of corruption by charging the corrupt through official and viable channels. Although most of the questions seemed easy for him to handle, the question on global warming was challenging. He however answered it adequately by stating that it is a global, and not only a Kenyan, issue.
The debate seemed fair given that President Uhuru did not attend. Mr. Odinga closed his speech by thanking Kenyans and wishing his competitor the best in the forthcoming general elections. Most Kenyans were disappointed by President Uhuru’s decision to abstain from the debate, and suggested that it might negatively affect his potential election in the upcoming general elections. According to some, it was rude and arrogant of him. Other Kenyans took to social media to state their disinterest in his candidacy given that they elected him four years ago.
By: Leah Awiti
Leah is a Kenyan contributor living in Nairobi. She enjoys writing about politics, business and culture.