NAIROBI, Kenya, July 23 (Reuters) – A new storm is brewing ahead of Tuesday’s presidential debate over the issues that will shape discourse between Deputy President William Ruto and his main rival Raila Odinga.
While Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance asked for special slots to be allocated for key issues such as health and the economy, Odinga’s Azimio threatened to withdraw unless the debate was anchored on the fight against bribery.
Azimio coalition party secretary Junet Mohamed General humorously said Friday the coalition, backed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, would replace its nominee with controversial lawmaker Babu Owino if his demands were not met.
“RAILA will only participate in the debate when the panel is addressing integrity, corruption and governance. If the discussion is based on other issues, we will send Babu Owino to debate with William Ruto instead,” he said.
His views were shared by Mombasa businessman Suleiman Shahbal, who joined Odinga’s campaign secretariat after dropping out of the gubernatorial campaign in the port city.
Ruto’s camp had said Kenya Kwanza’s candidate was ready to discuss all key issues, including corruption and integrity, provided moderators devote equal time to questions on the economy, health care and other key issues.
“We expect moderators to devote equal time to issues affecting Kenyans and to give candidates a fair opportunity to address them equally,” Hussein Mohammed, director of communications for William Ruto’s presidential campaign, said in a statement Thursday.
The presidential debate is to take place at the Catholic University of East Africa in two stages, each with two candidates.
Odinga and Ruto will take part in the main debate, while George Wajackoyah from the Roots Party and David Mwaure from Agano will debate in a separate set.