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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid