Nasa and Jubilee clash over planned presidential debate

Monday July 17 2017

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga share a light moment at Uzima University in Kisumu on June 29, 2015 during the celebration of Silver Jubilee since Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth was Elevated to head the Metropolitan. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga share a light moment at Uzima University in Kisumu on June 29, 2015. FILE PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By SAMWEL OWINO
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By FAITH NYAMAI
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Nasa and Jubilee were engaged in a war of words over Monday’s planned presidential debate.

While announcing that Nasa had changed its mind and its candidate Raila Odinga would participate in the debate, his senior advisor Salim Lone claimed President Uhuru Kenyatta was avoiding the debate.

Mr Lone said the Jubilee Party flagbearer was reluctant to attend because he will not find it easy to explain his achievements in his first term in office.

“Kenyans will hardly be surprised by the refusal of Jubilee to participate in the debates. Their atrocious record while in power makes it impossible to defend themselves,’’ Mr Lone said in a statement.

CORRUPTION

He added: “President Kenyatta would have had to explain why the scale of corruption and land grabbing are at levels never before seen in Kenya, while basic commodities, including unga, are out of reach for most Kenyans.”

But in response, secretary of communication at the Deputy President’s office, Mr David Mugonyi, dismissed Nasa as a coalition whose political plan is a “cocktail of shoddy copycat tactics” whose intention was to divide the country.

“They love giving ultimatums and conditions to appear purposeful and competent.

Their latest ultimatum is that Jubilee Party agrees to participate in the debates to enable their candidates to turn up,” Mr Mugonyi said in his statement.

REFUSED

Jubilee, he said, would not agree to participate, directly or otherwise, in Nasa’s decision making. He said Jubilee had refused to take part in the debate because of reasons it had well-considered and made public.

According to Mr Mugonyi, when Jubilee said President Uhuru Kenyatta will not participate in the debate, Nasa also refused to take part in it.

“Now they want to participate. But, they will not because Jubilee is steadfast in its resolution. The fact that they cannot appreciate the plain ridiculousness of their position is scandalous,” said the secretary.

“We understand that imitation is the best form of flattery but Jubilee is not flattered by Nasa’s copycat strategy, We are in a democratic contest for the leadership of a great nation, not a playground charade,” he added.

RESCIND DECISION

This came even as Mr Lone announced that Mr Odinga would participate in the presidential debate.

Mr Lone challenged President Kenyatta to rescind his decision and also take part in the debate that will be held at the Catholic University of East Africa.

Media panellists during a debate for running mates for presidential candidates at Catholic University on July 17, 2017. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Media panellists during a debate for running mates for presidential candidates at Catholic University on July 17, 2017. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“Over the last three weeks, the Nasa Secretariat has held a number of meetings with the Presidential Debates Commission to agree on the modalities of the debates that the commission had proposed.

At our final meeting last Thursday, Nasa and the commission reached agreement on the principal points about the debate format, including the issues to be discussed, the moderators, the audience and the venue,” Mr Lone said a statement to newsrooms.

PULLED OUT

Mr Odinga had earlier pulled out of the debate after President Kenyatta announced that he would not attend.

Meanwhile, the much hyped presidential running mates debate yesterday failed to live up to its expectations after only one candidate showed up at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa with the rest giving it a wide berth.

By 6:15pm only Mr Eliud Kariara the running mate of  Independent candidate Japheth Kavinga had arrived and was ushered into the debating auditorium where he went ahead and made his opening statement.

The eloquent and youthful Kariara said by showing up alone is an indication that their candidature is serious about the Presidency.

REAL CHANGE

Mr Kariara, a banker  had the platform-covered live by the mainstream TV stations- all to himself said it is only through the Presidency that he can effect the real change that will be felt by Kenyans.

Mr Ekuru Aukot, the Thirdway Alliance presidential candidate and his running mate Emmanuel Nzai arrived at the venue at 7:45pm but were not allowed in the debating auditorium.

Prof  Michael Wainaina and his running Mrs Miriam Mutua were also turned back by security officers

A security officer who spoke to Nation said they were under strict instructions not to allow any candidate into the auditorium past 7pm.