Kenya: Ruto Debates Alone After Odinga Kept Off

DP William Ruto at the presidential debate.

Nairobi — United Democratic Alliance (UDA) presidential candidate William Ruto enjoyed the presidential debate limelight alone on the podium Tuesday after his main competitor Raila Odinga of the Azimio La Umoja kept off.

Ruto arrived at the debate venue at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) accompanied by his running mate Rigathi Gachagua and a host of other leaders in his brigade as well as supporters.

The two were paired together for the big debate, but Raila pulled out at the last minute on Monday saying he cannot debate Ruto because "he has no regard for ethics, public morals, or shame."

He said he will instead host his own town hall in Jericho, Nairobi to articulate issues in his manifesto.

But Ruto has dismissed the idea, saying, "my competitor is a coward, he cannot face me because he has no agenda."

Also debating alone was David Mwaure who is vying for the presidency under the Agano party.

In defending his position on not attending the debate, Raila, who addressed a campaign rally in Meru said, "my competitor is full of insults, that is why I am not going to the debate."

His Campaign Secretariat said in a statement on Monday that they were opposed to the organisers' plan to put opposing candidates on the same platform.

"A traditional debate structure with opposing candidates joined together on stage is a bad idea this year.

"That is why we do not intend to share a national podium with a person who lacks basic decency," Raila's Campaign Secretariat said, accusing Ruto of trying to influence debate questions.

"He is a man who has no regard for ethics, public morals, or shame. That is why he has demanded that the debate not focus on corruption, integrity, ethics, and governance -- the key existential questions that Kenya faces. These issues sit at the core of the Azimio campaign. Any debate devoid of these questions would be an insult to the intelligence of Kenyans," said Raila's Spokesman Makau Mutua.

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