Presidential debates will take place in July

The presidential and deputy presidential debates will take place in July, Head of Presidential Debates Secretariat Clifford Machoka has announced.

In a statement on Friday, Mr Machoka said preparations for the July debates are at an advanced level.

He said they have co-opted the views of various presidential campaigns. He said that the secretariat is coordinating with all presidential candidates to accommodate concerns all raised.

“Planning for the 2022 debates has been underway since 2021 and are currently at very advanced stages. Specifically, we have involved various stakeholders, including presidential aspirants – including the William Ruto’s campaign– to map their expectations,” said Mr Machoka.

“In these consultations, we will continue to ensure the debates are as inclusive and representative as possible. Indeed, for us to take our country forward, it behoves us to work together rather than threaten processes that are important to the country. In this regard, the 2022 Kenya Presidential Debates will proceed in July 2022 and we will shortly announce the details on how Kenyans can participate,” he added.

The deputy president’s campaign had on Thursday announced that they would not participate in the debates organised by the Media Owners Association, the Media Council of Kenya and the Kenya Editors’ Guild. According to Hussein Mohammed, the Director of Communications at the WSR Presidential Campaign, the media has perpetuated “continued bias and propaganda” and “unequal allocation of coverage, compounded by biased framing and negative profiling” of the Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

“Under the current partisan media environment, we have advised our candidate against participating in the presidential debates,” said Mr Mohammed in the statement.

But according to Mr Machoka, debates for presidential candidates have become a tradition of Kenya’s democracy and a regularity in the country’s electoral cycles. The guidelines governing the debates were developed in 2017 with the participation of all the stakeholders.

“For a country that has so many diverse political voices, debates have become the place for clarity of priorities, public policies, ideas and other development aspects key to the Kenyan people. The debates play a significant role in the way we choose our leaders,” he said.

The Head of Presidential Debates Secretariat also disclosed that a panel of senior editors from across the media industry has been established to provide stewardship of the content aspects.

“We reassure the public and stakeholders in the electoral process that we will give Kenyans quality issue-based Presidential and Deputy Presidential Debates that will enable their decision making and effective participation in this year’s election,” he said.

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