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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid