Uhuru opts out of 2017 presidential debates

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 5 – President Uhuru Kenyatta will not participate in the presidential debates slated for Monday, July 10 and July 24.

Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe on Wednesday told Capital FM News that the party feels there was insufficient consultation and has taken issue with the show format.

Adverts for the debate have been running on all major television stations and some radio stations asking Kenyans to send in questions for the eight presidential candidates.

Earlier, the Alliance for Real Change candidate Abduba Dida moved to court to challenge the categorisation of the candidates into two groups with the purposes of having two separate debates on the same day.

Those with a popularity rating of less than five per cent, six of the candidates, are scheduled to participate in a separate debate – at 5.30pm – while the only two with a higher than five per cent rating, President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, are scheduled to debate at 8pm.

A plan Dida has taken issue with on the grounds that it gives the impression that the six are, “second class” candidates and wants the court to call off the entire affair if the organisers maintain the separation.

According to the latest Infotrak poll, President Kenyatta leads in the popularity race at 48 per cent, Odinga follows at 43 per cent, Dida scored 0.5 per cent while Ekuru Aukot, Cyrus Jirongo and Joe Nyagah each scored 0.1 per cent.

Before becoming President in 2013, Kenyatta participated in the debate but expressed reservations about the second round on the grounds that he was unfairly targeted by the moderators. He however went on take part and according to research firm Consumer Insight, made the most inroads – of all the eight participating candidates – with voters.

READ: Uhuru may baulk from presidential debate

If the arrangements stand, the question now is: Will Odinga debate himself?

The Head of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy secretariat Norman Magaya says the Opposition leader remains ready to debate President Kenyatta but given the latest developments, he says they will engage the event organisers with the view of making their final position known by Friday.

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