News / Africa

Kenya Holds First Presidential Debate

The eight Kenyan presidential aspirants Mohammed Dida, James Ole Kiyiapi, Uhuru Kenyatta, Peter Kenneth, Musalia Mudavadi, Martha Karua, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Paul Muite (L-R) face off in a presidential debate in Nairobi, February 11, 201
The eight Kenyan presidential aspirants Mohammed Dida, James Ole Kiyiapi, Uhuru Kenyatta, Peter Kenneth, Musalia Mudavadi, Martha Karua, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Paul Muite (L-R) face off in a presidential debate in Nairobi, February 11, 201
In Kenya, eight presidential candidates met for the first of two presidential debates Monday night at Brookhouse International School. The candidates discussed tribalism, pending cases at the International Criminal Court, security and social services ahead of the March 4 general election.

For the first time in history, Kenyans had the opportunity to see their favorite presidential candidate take the podium apart from the campaign to discuss real issues affecting people's lives. For more than three and a-half hours, the eight candidates discussed how they would fix the problems facing the East African country.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, whose Jubilee party enjoys popular support in central Kenya, said in order for his government to implement a certain agenda, it would need the numbers in parliament to do so.

“We saw a situation where for example, you have a number of candidates in a particular constituency all saying they support the same presidential candidate, but yet are on different platforms," said Kenyatta. "And I said if we really want to implement the agenda we have, given our new constitution, given the strength and the power given to the parliament, if we don’t have the necessary numbers in parliament to implement our agenda its going to make it difficult.”

Prime Minister Raila Odinga of the CORD party said his coalition was not formed on the basis of tribal alliance, but with the idea of people sharing the same values.

“You know Kenyans must come from different regions they cannot be invented from the moon, so people come together for a particular purpose like now we’ve got CORD is the coalition of willing people who have come together because of certain values that they share together," said Odinga.

Organizers of the event say they expected more than 40 million viewers across the country to watch the debate, which was broadcast live on all television and radio stations, as well as on the Internet.

Kenyatta and his running mate, parliament member William Ruto, are both charged with crimes committed during inter-tribal fighting that erupted following the last disputed election in 2007. He said he takes the charges leveled against him as a personal challenge.

“The way it currently is many Kenyans are faced with personal challenges and I take this as a personal challenge," he said. "I am sure my colleagues here also have other challenges, but those challenges don’t prevent one from continuing with their day-to-day job.”

In an interview with VOA, Wachira Waruru, the chairman of the presidential debate steering committee, said it hopes that after this debate Kenyans will make informed choices at the ballot box.

Social and political analyst Atieno Ndomo notes the debate won’t change much because the Kenyan electorate will vote along ethnic lines.

“It’s another chance for glamorous glitz for these politicians, I am afraid to say I don’t think for instance people are going to change their votes," said Ndomo. "People are being motivated by very strange reasons, I think a bit of analysis, the Kenyan electoral process is very baffling. So I think there are other factors and we know what those are whether its ethnicity, name recognition, people have been on the scene for a long time.”

In the second debate, to be held on February 25, candidates will discuss contentious issues involving land, foreign policy and the economy.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs