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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs