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Why it is important to host these debates

By The Standard | Updated Mon, July 17th 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3

The presidential running mates’ televised debate is scheduled for today. Uncertainty still surrounds who will actually be in attendance. Despite there being eight candidates to deputise the eight presidential candidates, incumbent Deputy President William Ruto appeared to cast doubt on his attendance through his twitter handle that indicated he was not aware of the debate.

Earlier, President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga indicated they would not attend the presidential debate that was scheduled for July 10 but later moved to July 24 following the uncertainty occasioned by a court case filed by Abduba Dida, one of the presidential aspirants, challenging it. While this easily takes the edge off the debate, expectation is high that their deputies will not follow suit.

Not only is our democracy still young, weakened institutions mean that only a televised debate that will be able to reach millions of Kenyans wherever they are, offers them the chance to scrutinize the men (all are men) who are, potentially, presidents-in-waiting.

There is no denying many of them are not known to Kenyans, and financial constraints deny them the chance of organising high voltage public rallies across the country.

Besides being loyal deputies, they should demonstrate that they can lead in the likelihood of their bosses’ getting incapacitated. Through the debate, Kenyans can easily get to know them and gauge their capabilities. 

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