The presidential running mate debate scheduled for Monday 17th July at the Catholic university of East Africa kicked off later than scheduled and with far fewer candidates than expected. And that is an understatement
For one, only a solitary candidate out of the expected 8 showed up. Mr. Eliud Muthiora Kariara, running mate to Mr. Japheth Kavinga Kaluyu, an independent candidate.
The event had been shadowed by a dark cloud of uncertainty well before it began, with at least four of the expected candidates declining the opportunity, each citing a variety of reasons.
Thirdway Alliance of Kenya’s Presidential candidate Ekuru Aukot’s and his running mate Emmanuel Nzai and Alliance For Real Change’s candidate Abduba Dida’s and his running mate Tito Ngetuny all declined to participate in the debate, citing opposition to the 2 tier format.
“All of us must be put on one platform in prime time and allowed to sell our policies to Kenyans. We will not accept any form of discrimination,” Mr Nzai said.
Mr. Nzai’s sentiments were echoed by Mr. Dida.
The rest if the running mates decided not to attend the first debate scheduled for 6 candidates at 5 pm, opting instead to attend the second debate that was scheduled at 8 pm and was meant for the NASA and Jubilee running mates.
Their attempts to access the hall were thwarted by the organisers who cited the rules and regulations of the event.
But even as this happened, the two major political movements stirred controversy over the debate, with Jubilee claiming that they were not consulted by the organisers of the event and would therefore not attend the event.
A tweet by Jubilee presidential running mate and current Deputy President William Ruto appeared to express ignorance over the arrangements. Mr. Ruto was confirmed to have been accompanying the president at a rally at the coast.
NASA on their part castigated Jubilee for their so called antics and asserted that they would only attend the debate if Jubilee would. Interestingly, a section of media houses reported NASA running mate Kalonzo Musyoka to have been out of the country
And so a series of traded insults on social media and quickly issued statements ensued, all to result. The debate was not to happen.
The occurrence stirred an outpouring of opinion and feelings on social media ad well as in the panel chosen to run a commentary on the debates, with the range varying from anger to disappointment and in some cases, approval.
However, the unlikely beneficiary of what could be safely described as a debacle of sorts was Muthiora. Kenyans watched, incredulous, but with increasing respect and disgust in near equal measure as the youthful aspirant held his own for the 90 minutes slated for the debate.
Muthiora’s act inspired even more public comment over the event, with public opinion generally mostly positive.
The media also earned itself a fair degree of backlash from what was described as a failed debate.
All eyes now rest on the presidential debate