The presidential running mates debate scheduled for today evening at Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) will continue as earlier planned despite half the candidates saying they will not attend.
The chairman of the steering committee organising the presidential debates, Wachira Waruru, told the Nation that the debate is still on and the organisers will host the remaining four candidates.
“We will host the other half,” Mr Waruru said in a short text message.
Deputy President William Ruto is still campaigning at the Coast with President Uhuru Kenyatta while National Super Alliance (Nasa) counterpart Kalonzo Musyoka is out of the country.
Mr Ruto, through his official Twitter page, said: “I’m very surprised with this debate, nobody has engaged me about it. Surely a little courtesy on date, content and rules of engagement would do.”
Emmanuel Nzai, the running mate of Ekuru Aukot (Thirdway Alliance Kenya), said he will only attend the debate if all candidates are present and treated equally.
“They dismissed us as fringe candidates and now that Deputy President William Ruto and Mr Kalonzo Musyoka have declined to attend they want to use us to sanitise the whole process,” Mr Nzai said.
Mr Nzai said all candidates must be treated equally by having one debate and not a two-tier debate.
“All of us must be put on one platform in prime time and allowed to sell our policies to Kenyans. We will not accept any form of discrimination,” Mr Nzai added.
“We will not accept the tier debate as it amounts to discrimination. We were all cleared by the electoral commission after meeting the same conditions,” he explained.
He further said that debate organisers have a civic duty to ensure that the public is adequately informed through providing the same platform for all the candidates.
“Kenya cannot be controlled by two people, all of us have policies and we must be given equal chance,” Mr Nzai said.
Alliance for Real Change presidential candidate Abduba Dida also said his running mate, Tito Ngetuny, will not attend the debate.
“None of the running mates will attend the debate as long as discrimination is the order of the day as we have witnessed from the organisers.
“All candidates must be equal and the podium should be set for eight people,” Mr Dida told the Nation.
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah, who has been appointed to represent DP Ruto in the debate, said through a Facebook post that he was ready to face off with all the running mates.
“I feel energised to play my civic responsibility to expose Nasa’s lack of substance and vision for this country as we expound on the transformative agenda of 2017-2022,” Mr Ichung’wa said.