#KenyaDecides: President Uhuru, Raila Odinga pull out of national debate

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his main challenger Raila Odinga have pulled out of presidential debates ahead of the August 8 elections.

The vote has attracted a total of eight presidential aspirants, though pollsters project that the race will narrow down to President Uhuru and Raila.

Normally, local media outlets in the East African country organize presidential debates ahead of general elections, allowing the candidates to answer to questions and sell their agenda.

Uhuru was the first to pull out of the debate that was scheduled for 10 Monday. Raila also pulled out just hours after the presidents move, both citing lack of consultations.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta will not participate in the presidential debates,” David Murathe, vice chairman of the ruling Jubilee Party, said on Wednesday, citing insufficient consultation and format issues.

Kenya held its first ever televised presidential debate in 2013, including both Kenyatta and Odinga. Afterwards, Kenyatta complained that he had been unfairly targeted by moderators.

Kenya, with a population of around 46 million people, will go to the polls Next month. The country’s electoral commission says the number of registered voters is more than 19.6 million.

President Uhuru will be seeking a second and final mandate, but is facing stiff competition from the NASA opposition coalition led by long-time rival Raila Odinga.

On Monday, the European Union warned against possible violence in the forthcoming elections, while advocacy group Human Rights Watch said it had documented cases of intimidation and threats.

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