Ruto debates alone as Odinga skips presidential debate

Another candidate, George Wajackoyah, also did not participate, leaving another candidate – David Mwaure – to face the questions alone, in the debate held the same day.

A few days before the debate, Raila had sent a statement through his campaign secretariat explaining that he would not appear because he cannot share the same podium with Ruto, describing him as a person who lacks integrity.

The former prime minister also accused Ruto of pressuring moderators to avoid topics based on corruption and integrity.

“He is a man who has no respect for ethics, public morals or shame. It would be a mistake to reward such a person with a national debate,” Raila said in a statement.

Despite this, Ruto showed up for the debate and answered questions from two moderators for 90 minutes, accusing its main competitor of staying away out of fear to answer difficult questions.

“My competitor isn’t here because he doesn’t have a plan, he doesn’t have an agenda,” Ruto said.

Asked about the allegations of corruption and his thirst for acquiring property, especially land, Ruto dismissed the allegations saying, “Any land I have is legally acquired.

According to him, the war against corruption has been politicized and he is the victim of it. “That’s enough,” he said.

He accused the current regime of undermining the judiciary by depriving it of funds to carry out its duties in the fight against conscription.

Kenya’s candidate Kwanza however promised to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate all corruption cases and prosecute them in court, if he wins the presidency.

Missed opportunity for Raila

Political analyst Brian Wanyama said Raila missed an opportunity to air his issues to voters during the debate, which he said turned out to be a question-and-answer session.

The debate was like a talk show. Raila’s absence was unfortunate

He also describes Ruto’s performance as below average as he lacked a challenger and did not clearly articulate his economic plan as expected.

“The debate was like a talk show. Raila’s absence was unfortunate,” says Wanyama The Africa Report.

George Maina, a Ruto supporter who watched the debate, says his candidate performed well and blames Raila for not being present. “He feared Ruto. He should have attended,” he said.

However, for Vital Mugisho, a Raila supporter, it was wise that his candidate did not attend the debate.

Mugisho describes Raila as a statesman who cannot take insults. “I support [Raila] Odinga for not being present. I don’t want him to be insulted on stage,” he says.

Odinga’s own debate

Raila has now planned his own debate with voters in Nairobi this week, at a town hall he says he will engage with people directly and answer their questions about the promises he has made.

Speaking at a political rally on Wednesday, Raila defended his position on the debate with Ruto, telling supporters he could meet his opponent in the August 9 poll.

In 2017, when Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta were vying for the presidencythey refused to engage Raila in a presidential debate saying they wanted to engage the people directly and not through debate.

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