Eyes on Karua and Gachagua as Kenyans await deputy presidential debate

All eyes are on UDA presidential running mate Rigathi Gachagua and his Azimio la Umoja running mate Martha Karua as they square it out on Tuesday night’s deputy presidential debate at the Catholic University of East Africa. This debate will be moderated by Sophia Wanuna of KTN News and James Smart of NTV.

The two, if elected on August 9, will be a heartbeat away from State House and what they tell Kenyans on Tuesday night may go a long way to convince undecided voters to support either of their camps. Kenya Kwanza, where Gachagua belongs, had been threatening to boycott the debate but the Mathira MP went to the venue for a briefing by the organisers on Monday afternoon.

Their duel will be presided by the debate between Justina Wamae, the running mate to Roots Presidential candidate George Wajackoyah and Ruth Mucheru who is deputizing Agano Party of Kenya flagbearer Waihiga Mwaure. This debate will be moderated by Zubeida Koome of KTN News and Francis Gachuri of Citizen TV.

Panel discussions for both debates will be moderated by Trevor Ombija of Citizen TV. The debates are an important part of the election cycle as they afford Kenyans a chance to send in questions that interrogate the presidential candidates’ pledges and intentions.

Presidential debates are a relatively new phenomenon in the Kenyan political scene having started in 2013 when all the eight candidates then squared it out in a debate moderated by Linus Kaikai and Julie Gichuru. The format has since changed with candidates who have scored less than 5 per cent in the last three opinion polls debating separately in a tier two session. On July 26, Wajackoyah will face Mwaure in the tier two debate while Ruto will square it out with Raila in the tier one session later that evening.

Debates are more popular in Western democracies but like in Kenya, they share their own fair share of drama as has been witnessed in the US recently where republican candidates for governor are refusing to participate.

In 2017, then NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga was left to “debate” alone as President Uhuru Kenyatta who was seeking a second term skipped the debate. In 2017, Ruto and the then NASA running mate Kalonzo Musyoka skipped the running mates debate. Muthiora Kariara, who was the running mate to Independent presidential candidate Japhet Kavinga Kaluyu is the only one who showed up for the first debate.




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