Presidential debate sheds little light on Kenyan polls


Kenyans had hoped that Tuesday’s presidential debate would be steeped in policy and with sound bites to define the upcoming election.

But a snub by one of the main frontrunners, Raila Odinga, saw the Deputy President William Ruto appear alone in what quickly descended into a review of the latter’s past 10 years in government.

Opinion polls suggest the election, scheduled for 9 August, will be a tight one between the two former allies.

At stake is the country’s faltering economy, rising cost of living, ballooning debt burden, corruption in government and a high youth unemployment rate.

In media interviews, all the main presidential candidates have separately spoken of the solutions they offer.

Mr Odinga has said he will steer the country from a Sri Lankan-style crisis. Mr Ruto has spoken of his bottom-up route to economic recovery.

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George Wajackoyah promises to turn the nation into a major exporter of marijuana, snake venom and hyenas’ testicles. David Mwaure has focused on integrity and fighting corruption.

None of these was talked about in detail at the debate. It was a missed chance for candidates to flesh out their proposed solutions and the Kenyan voters were left not better informed.

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