- On July 5, both President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga had announced they would not take part in the debates as they all accused the organisers of not consulting them.
- In June, the organisers had said that in order to have a non-crowded debate, three leading presidential candidates would battle it out on television and radio.
- And on the D-day for the running mates debate, uncertainty reigned as almost half of them said they would not attend.
Nasa and Jubilee were engaged in a war of words over Monday’s planned presidential debate.
While announcing that Nasa had changed its mind and its candidate Raila Odinga would participate in the debate, his senior advisor Salim Lone claimed President Uhuru Kenyatta was avoiding the debate.
Mr Lone said the Jubilee Party flagbearer was reluctant to attend because he will not find it easy to explain his achievements in his first term in office.
“Kenyans will hardly be surprised by the refusal of Jubilee to participate in the debates. Their atrocious record while in power makes it impossible to defend themselves,’’ Mr Lone said in a statement.
He added: “President Kenyatta would have had to explain why the scale of corruption and land grabbing are at levels never before seen in Kenya, while basic commodities, including unga, are out of reach for most Kenyans.”
But in response, secretary of communication at the Deputy President’s office, Mr David Mugonyi, dismissed Nasa as a coalition whose political plan is a “cocktail of shoddy copycat tactics” whose intention was to divide the country.
“They love giving ultimatums and conditions to appear purposeful and competent.
Their latest ultimatum is that Jubilee Party agrees to participate in the debates to enable their candidates to turn up,” Mr Mugonyi said in his statement.
Jubilee, he said, would not agree to participate, directly or otherwise, in Nasa’s decision making. He said Jubilee had refused to take part in the debate because of reasons it had well-considered and made public.
According to Mr Mugonyi, when Jubilee said President Uhuru Kenyatta will not participate in the debate, Nasa also refused to take part in it.
“Now they want to participate. But, they will not because Jubilee is steadfast in its resolution. The fact that they cannot appreciate the plain ridiculousness of their position is scandalous,” said the secretary.
“We understand that imitation is the best form of flattery but Jubilee is not flattered by Nasa’s copycat strategy, We are in a democratic contest for the leadership of a great nation, not a playground charade,” he added.