Anxiety looms over the fate of the presidential debate as media wins court case

Alliance for Real Change(ARK) Presidential candidate Mohammed Abduba Dida during an interview at his office in Eastleigh,Nairobi on Thursday 22/06/17.PHOTO:BONIFACE OKENDO

In a ruling on Friday, Justice John Mativo dismissed a case filed by the Alliance for Real Change presidential candidate Mohammed Abduba Dida seeking an order to have all eight presidential candidates participate in the debate.

The ruling came as the live debate scheduled for Monday was pushed to July 24 to give the organisers and candidates more time to deliberate on the choice of format and rules of engagement.

 “Following the court’s decision, the committee is engaging various campaign teams to set up briefing sessions on the debates’ format and other logistical details,” read a statement by the steering committee chairman and Royal Media Services (RMS) CEO Wachira Waruru.

The decision by the media houses under the umbrella company, Debate Media Limited and the Media Council of Kenya, to postpone the debate came hours after justice Mativo dismissed Dida’s case.

The revised date has not affected the debate of the running mates which is slated for July 17, but it means that Kenyans will only witness one presidential debate, if the parties agree.

The organisers had suffered a setback on Wednesday when both President Uhuru Kenyatta and NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga opted out of the debate unless their conditions are met.

President Kenyatta’s side accused the organisers of not reaching out to them or even officially inviting him to the debate after agreeing on the rules of engagement.

On its part, Raila’s NASA pulled out saying that Raila would not participate in the debate in its current format and stipulation.

The organisers lauded the court’s ruling, which upheld that the presidential debates guideline for the 2017 elections is a milestone in the history of Kenya’s constitution.

“The decision reflects a great depth of learning and analytical skill and has settled long standing controversy with finality. The judge also found that in developing the guidelines, we were was not motivated by any discriminatory motives,” said the statement.

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