- Title: Kenyan vice president candidate debates himself after rivals' no-show.
- Date: 18th July 2017
- Summary: PLACARD WITH PICTURES OF ODINGA
- Embargoed: 1st August 2017 15:36
- Keywords: debate deputy president candidates running mates NASA Jubilee
- Location: NAIROBI, KENYA
- City: NAIROBI, KENYA
- Country: Kenya
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA0066Q8UVRR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: QUALITY AS INCOMING
Kenyans had been looking forward to a political fighting match at the planned televised debate between vice-presidential candidates in next month's election. Instead they saw a one man show on Monday (July 17) when only one of the six candidates stood in the studio fielding questions alone for an hour.
Surrounded by five empty podiums, Eliud Muthiora Kariara, a former banker turned running mate to independent presidential candidate Japhet Kavinga Kaluyu, was undeterred by their absence and agreed to answer all the questions asked of him by two moderators and the audience.
"We are counting on the Kenyan people to help us fight corruption. How we can achieve that today is this way, on August the 8th we have an opportunity for our voice to be heard through the ballot. If you help us by electing into office MCA's (Members of the County Assembly) women representatives, MP's, Senators and Governors who are beyond reproach, then you are helping us to start the war against corruption," he said.
Why the other candidates were not present was unclear although some had already voiced objections to the debate format. Broadcasters had planned to have six minor candidates, including Kariara, take the stage first, with the front-runners from the two biggest parties facing off separately later.
For the audience expecting a back and forth of ideas, views and policies and hoping to glean who and what they would be voting for there was a flood of disappointment with some people feeling insulted.
"I am a very disappointed person. We were waiting, the Kenyan community was waiting for the running mates to come present their thoughts and their manifesto and why they are actually supporting their mates but I was very disappointed that only one person turned up," said Lydiah Mungai, a social worker.
Kenya's current deputy president, William Ruto, said on Twitter that he had not been given details of the event.
But Debate Media Limited, the alliance of broadcasters that organised the debate, said in a statement that all the campaign bodies had been informed.
"The suggestion that the campaigns did not know about these debates is therefore at best dishonest," the statement said.
"It seems to me it was really a competition if you will or a tug of war between the media and the politicians and it was very interesting in that sense because it is really about who runs the agenda for the country, if you think about it. We are at a point where these two groups are all trying, both of them, are trying to say this is how things should go and to demonstrate they're powerful," said political commentator Patrick Gathara.
Kenya will also choose legislators and local representatives in the August 8 polls, which will see incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta challenged by veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga, the head of the National Super Alliance (NASA).
Odinga also ran in 2007, when a disputed presidential poll sparked violence that killed 1,200 people, and in a peaceful election in 2013.
A presidential debate is scheduled for Monday (July 24) but Odinga and Kenyatta have said they will not take part.
Gathara says they may give in to pressure after so many have expressed disappointment in the no-show deputies' debate.
"I suspect we will have a debate the next time, don't forget this is not the first time the deputy presidential debate has failed, it failed also in 2013, we didn't have one and like 2013 we had the same scenario where presidential candidates had said they would boycott the debate but they turned up. I suspect there is going to be a deal cut last minute and you will have a presidential debate on the 24th," he said.
Figures from polling firm IPSOS show the ruling party and NASA are likely to take about 90 percent of the vote, while none of the six independent presidential candidates is polling above one percent.
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