Kenya: Odinga Rules Self Out Of Debate; Cites Rival Avoiding Corruption, Other Topics

Lazy eyes listen


Raila Odinga, one of Kenya’s two leading presidential candidates, will not participate in an upcoming electoral debate, his campaign team announced on Sunday, accusing his main rival of attempting to avoid certain topics such as corruption.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, 77, and Deputy President William Ruto, 55, are the frontrunners in the August 9 presidential election.

However, in a statement announcing Odinga’s boycott of Tuesday’s debate, his campaign spokesman accused Ruto of attempting to avoid discussion of critical issues.

According to Odinga’s spokesman, Ruto “has demanded that the debate not focus on corruption, integrity, ethics, and governance — the key existential questions that Kenya faces.”

“Any debate that does not include these questions is an insult to Kenyans’ intelligence.” That is why we will not share a national platform with someone who lacks basic decency,” he added.

Instead, Odinga plans to hold a televised town hall meeting with “ordinary Kenyans” in an eastern neighborhood of Nairobi, according to the statement.

The announcement follows a letter sent to the debate organizers on Thursday by Ruto’s director of communications.

It stated that he was “prepared to answer any question and speak to any matter that arises during the debate,” but that his attendance was “conditional” on certain issues.

“We expect the moderators to devote equal time to issues affecting Kenyans and to provide candidates with an equal opportunity to address them,” the letter stated.

“To that end, we would like to know ahead of time how many minutes will be allotted to various interventions, including, but not limited to, governance and integrity, agriculture, healthcare, MSMEs and manufacturing, housing, the digital economy, foreign policy, and so on and so forth,” it went on.