Debates Media Limited, the outfit coordinating the debate of presidential contenders, has been forced to reschedule the event to allow for more time to engage the parties involved, some of whom had given it a cold shoulder.
The company said the first debate, initially scheduled for July 10 has been moved to July 24, so organisers can realign the format in line with requests from the presidential candidates. It means there will be only one debate for presidential candidates and not two as had earlier been planned by Debates Media.
Even then media houses will have to burn the midnight oil to convince the big two contenders, Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta, to reconsider their decision to pullout.
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The Steering Committee on the Presidential Debates made the decision on the day the High Court ruled on the Presidential Debates Guidelines for the August 8 election in a suit filed by one of the presidential candidates, Abduba Dida. Dida’s bid to stop the debate was thrown out.
The committee termed the ruling as a landmark in the history of the Constitution.
Judge John Mativo ruled that Mr Dida’s petition to stop the media events planned for July 10 and 24 had no merit. The Judge also found that in developing the guidelines, Debates Media Limited was not motivated by any discriminatory motives contrary to the charges levelled against it.
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Following the Court’s decision, the Steering Committee says it is engaging various campaign teams to set up briefing sessions on the debates format and other logistical details. One debate will mean some losses for media houses which had invested Sh100 million in logistics and expected to earn Sh200 million in advertising.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his main rival, Raila Odinga, had announced they would not take part in the debate citing lack of consultations and the format that will be used respectively.
The running mates debate, which was slated for the 17th of July, will progress as scheduled.