In Kenya, the second and final presidential debate is scheduled to be held in the capital, Nairobi, Monday in the run up to the March 4 general election.
Wachira Waruru, the chairman of the presidential debate steering committee says Kenyans will see a much improved debate from the first debate. He says the focus of the second debate will be about the economy as well as land issues.
“The first one was the first experience ever for us to host a debate of this nature. So, we learned quite a few lessons from the first one and we intend for it to be more streamlined and more efficient in terms of the organization and the logistics and the execution of the debate,” said Waruru.
Waruru says organizers have been encouraged by the response they got following the first presidential debate.
“From the feedback we got, it was very well received. It was a huge event and very well watched by Kenyans. The fact that it actually happened was in itself a major achievement for the country as a whole,” said Waruru.
“It brought out a few issues that these bitter rivals can stand on one platform and call each other brother and sister and actually engage on issues, so it was very welcomed by the public,” he said.
Waruru expressed doubt that prospective voters will have the information needed from the two debates to make a decision on the best candidate to lead the country following next month’s election.
“We must acknowledge that a lot of voting in Kenya is ethnic based or people with ethnic loyalties. The polls that were released after the first debate showed that only a small number of people would change their minds on the basis of the debate,” said Waruru.
However he expressed hope that future debates could help Kenyans to better choose their leaders irrespective of their ethnic background.
“We believe that this is a beginning of a process where we start shifting our politics from ethnic consideration towards more issue-based politics. We are hoping that the biggest achievement is that it opens up peoples eyes to the fact that there is more to leadership than where someone comes from,” said Waruru.
Kenya’s electoral body has cleared eight presidential candidates expected to be part of Monday’s debate, which is the second in the East African nation’s history.
The candidates include Musalia Mudavadi (Amani coalition), Uhuru Kenyatta (Jubilee), Martha Karua (Narc-Kenya), James ole Kiyiapi (Restore and Rebuild Kenya), Peter Kenneth (Eagle Coalition), Paul Muite (SAFINA), Mohamed Abduda Dida (ARK) and Prime Minister Raila Odinga of the CORD party.