Eight candidates participating in Kenya's first ever presidential debate were taken to task over their stand on reforms and party politics.
Coming hot on the heels of an impassioned discussion on the pending trials before the International Criminal Court (ICC), the candidates Mohamed Dida, James ole Kiyiapi, Uhuru Kenyatta, Peter Kenneth, Martha Karua, Musalia Mudavadi, Raila Odinga and Paul Muite were asked to elaborate their reform agenda to be implemented as a result of the adoption of a new Constitution in August 2010.
Kenneth of the Kenya National Congress said the recruitment of those serving in the police force and many departments of the government was done wrongly. Odinga, Muite and Karua insisted that there was need to get judicial and police reforms right to be respected internationally.
Odinga stated: "Our Judiciary has the capacity to deal with the cases at the ICC but Kenyans must make an informed decision."
Karua said Kenya must ensure full implementation of judicial reforms because Kenya's image is at stake. "The unity of Kenya suffers since the criminal justice system is not reformed. It must be reformed now," she said.
Dida contended that the impunity that had been exhibited in the public sector must end. "Junior employees are forced to step aside in times of allegations but ministers are spared," he stated.
The role of political parties in the management of the county's affairs was also put to the candidates, with moderator Linus Kaikai taking on CORD's Odinga over his constant shifting of parties since the adoption on multi-party politics in 1992.
Odinga was asked to explain what informed his decamping from the Ford-K into NDP then KANU between 1997 to 2001, before ditching the independence party to form LDP which romped to victory during to the 2002 elections. In 2007, Odinga vied on an ODM ticket, the same party that nominated him for next month's election.
The PM said that his shift has always been informed by ideologies as a social democrat.
"I have not changed parties but the Liberal Democratic Party just changed names to ODM and now we have merged with Wiper. ODM stands for social democracy and this is our dream." However, newcomer ARK's Mohamed Dida took on Odinga asking him to explain why his 'Pentagon' during the 2007 election had abandoned him.
Dida stated: "I just wonder what social democracy this is, where you form a team with five people and then they later run away from you." On his part, Kenyatta stated that The National Alliance was borne after differences in KANU.
He said unlike in KANU, which he described as being rigid, TNA is focused on issues and building structures. Karua explained Narc-Kenya was a party based on social democratic principles and also focused on equity, justice and reforms. "A government is only as good as the party that forms it. Choose disciplined and honest parties."
Kenneth and Paul Muite admonished the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the Registrar of Political Parties for failing to enforce the Political Parties Act.
Muite said: "The Act must help parties realise internal democracy. However, this has not been done. We believe in Article 91 and 92 of the Constitution."
Kenneth said his party which was formed 20 years ago and he has been working with the German Foundation to revive it. He said parties should be viewed as vehicles of democracy but called for the strengthening the Political Parties Act to ensure transparency and development.
However, Mudavadi of the Amani coalition said there was need to review the legislation around party politics and elections, arguing that some parts of the law were ambiguous.