Presidential debates secretariat issues statement over Raila's boycott

Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga has officially withdrawn from the Presidential Debate.

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The Presidential debates secretariat has issued a statement after Azimio la Umoja Presidential Candidate Raila Odinga announced that he will not take part in the presidential debate scheduled for July 26, 2022.

In the update, organisers of the said debate confirmed that the event will go on as planned at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). The secretariat promised to keep the upcoming debate as objective as possible for the benefit of the Kenyan people.

“We confirm to the public that the 2022 Presidential debate will take place on Tuesday July 26, 2022 at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) main campus in Karen, from 4:00pm to 10:00PM.

"We continue to engage all stakeholders, including the various presidential campaign teams. We are committed to make the debates as inclusive and representative as possible, for the benefit of the Kenyan people,” read part of the statement from the Presidential debates secretariat.

The Presidential debates secretariat also noted that moderators of the debates have not and will not share questions meant for the debates with any of the candidates.

“Once again, we wish to reiterate out commitment to delivering a debate founded on principles of fairness, integrity, independence and accountability as enshrined in the presidential debates guidelines,” the secretariat added.

On Sunday, July 24, 2022 the Spokesperson of the Raila Odinga Presidential Campaign Secretariat, Prof. Makau Mutua confirmed that the Azimio flagbearer will not attend the Presidential Debate.

Explaining the move, Makau noted that it would be meaningless for Odinga to take part in the debate if key issues of national concern are to be left out as per the request of Kenya Kwanza’s William Ruto.

"That is why he has demanded that the debate not focus on corruption, ethics and governance. These are issues at the core of the Azimio campaign; any debate devoid of these questions will be an insult to the intelligence of Kenyans," Mutua said.

According to him, having Raila participate in the debate would amount to campaigning for his competitor, William Ruto.

"It would be a colossal mistake to reward such a person with a national debate. We will not assist his failing campaign; he can explain himself and his poor record to voters without our help.

"We plan to take part in a televised town hall at Jericho Social Hall in Nairobi's Eastlands with ordinary Kenyans to offer our solutions to the challenges facing the country and common people," the statement read in part.

On July 22, Roots Party presidential candidate, Professor George Wajackoyah said he will only attend the debate if organisers allow him to debate with Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga and Kenya Kwanza’s William Ruto.

“We would like to notify you that our candidate Prof Wajackoyah will only attend the debate if he will be dating with the Azimio and Kenya Kwanza presidential candidates," the letter read in part.

“Our decision is informed by the fact that the polls used as a determined to pair the presidential candidates are not factual because they are conducted by pollsters with interests in some of the political parties participating in the presidential debate,” Roots party says in the letter addressed to the 2022 Presidential debate secretariat.

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