Surprise as Uhuru Kenyatta pulls out of presidential debate
NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 20 – Jubilee presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta has expressed his unwillingness to take part in the second presidential debate planned for Monday, February 25.
The Jubilee presidential campaign team has written a letter to the secretariat organising the debates, seeking an urgent meeting to discuss concerns emanating from the first debate held on February 11.
“While saluting the organisers for orchestrating such a historic and seminal event; it would be remiss on our part if we did not bring to the fore blatant acts of omission and commission that regrettably raise doubts on the need and value of having our candidate, Uhuru Kenyatta, appear in the second and final round on 25th February, 2013.”
The coalition argues that the moderators “excitedly introduced the International Criminal Court issue as the only ‘elephant’ in the room, conveniently forgetting there were many other jumbos that are a matter of public knowledge and media record.”
“Unfortunately, the moderators only chose to introduce the ICC ‘elephant’ and thereby created a stage upon which the other candidates could gang up and ruthlessly attack Uhuru Kenyatta as if they were themselves above both blame and suspicion. This was anything but a level playing field and smacked of favouritism, bias and victimisation.”
They argue that the ICC question took 30 minutes of the entire debate, taking up time that would have focussed on other issues of public interest.
“The obsession with the ICC matter took so much time of the debate that the moderators squandered an opportunity to interrogate the respective manifestoes and question the candidates on important aspects of those documents that are aimed at guiding the policies of the next government.”
Kenyatta’s alliance feels the moderators should have addressed integrity issues touching on the maize scandal, Kazi Kwa Vijana programme, the Goldenberg scandal, sale of the Mavoko cemetery, dealings at Kenya Reinsurance and the embezzlement of Free Primary Education funds.
The coalition has also taken issue with the choice of panellists on the post-debate forum, saying some have been openly biased towards Kenyatta in the past.
The Jubilee secretariat’s lengthy letter ends: “We, however, wish to reiterate our readiness to meet with members of the Organizing Committee to discuss these concerns.”