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Presidential debate: Uhuru cancels Samburu tour

Monday July 24 2017

President Uhuru Kenyatta. He has cancelled his

President Uhuru Kenyatta. He has cancelled his tour of Samburu County. PHOTO | PSCU 

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President Uhuru Kenyatta has cancelled a scheduled tour to Samburu and Marsabit today, a possible indication that he could attend a scheduled presidential debate and face off with his main challenger, Raila Odinga.

Journalists who normally travel with the President on his campaign tours were on Sunday asked by his campaign team to rest.

President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga are the main act at the debate organised by the media at Catholic University of East Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi and set to be aired live on all television channels starting at 5.30pm.

The Jubilee and National Super Alliance flag-bearers are scheduled to take the stage at 8pm, the first time they will face each other directly since the start of the campaign period.

The six other candidates for the presidency will be first on the stage at CUEA in Karen at 5.30pm.



Both leading candidates have kept the press guessing as to whether they will attend the event.

Neither President Kenyatta nor his team had indicated where he would spend the day.

The President usually posts on his Facebook and Twitter pages a map of the locations he plans to visit on the campaign trail.

Mr Odinga spent the early part of the morning in an interview with Radio Jambo at his house and had also not indicated whether he would be attending the debate.

State House digital boss Dennis Itumbi criticised the organisers in a series of tweets Monday morning, accusing them of advertising that candidates were coming for the debate without having confirmed with them.


It was not the first time that was happening, as the President’s secretariat has often criticised the planning of the event.

Last week, the steering committee organising the debates said that all candidates had been consulted over the matter.

The steering committee clarified that in June it published the criteria for participation in the debates and following international best practices determined that there would be two debates in one.

"Nevertheless, the steering committee relentlessly reached out to all campaign teams through formal letters and informal channels,” the statement says.

The debates come in the wake of two opinion polls showing that neither of the two leading candidates has crossed the 50 per cent mark in terms of support, meaning there could be a run-off.