Let’s ensure debates work

The running mates for the eight presidential candidates in the General Election are on Monday scheduled to feature in a debate ahead of voting day on August 8.

This will be followed by the presidential debate a week later.

This is a perfect opportunity for millions of voters across the country to watch those who will potentially be second in command — including current Deputy President William Ruto and former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka — talk about their agenda and important issues that affect the country.

Indeed, the debate is an important platform to ensure accountability.


Even though the tradition of presidential debates is yet to be fully institutionalised in Kenya, the momentum gained from the successful events ahead of the 2013 elections should help to entrench this as a tradition with a follow-up this year.

In recent weeks, there have been various public statements raising doubt on the participation of the perceived frontrunners — President Uhuru Kenyatta of Jubilee Party and Mr Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance — and claims of bias by the other six presidential candidates.


Others have questioned the organisation of the debates, including their viability and formats.

Major media organisations, which are largely behind efforts to ensure the events are successful, have published the rules and made contact with the various stakeholders on the issues raised.

We hope these concerns can be ironed out for the benefit of the country’s democracy. 

The running mates should make good use of the opportunity presented by Monday’s debate to address Kenyans directly with the presidential candidates following suit the following week.

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