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Kenyans express views on Africa’s “first” presidential debate

Media agencies in Kenya last week announced plans to host three live presidential debates ahead of the general elections set for March 4, next year.

Speaking at an event last week, Royal Media Services managing director and chairman of debate committee Wachira Waruru last said: “The debate will provide Kenyan voters with the opportunity to listen to, interrogate and interact with the presidential candidates. The debates will also offer aspirants an opportunity of reaching out to wider audience and explain how they would govern if elected president.”

He argued that political aspirants would now express their ideas to the public while at the same time face questions on their manifestoes, knowledge of national issues, their priorities and temperament.

Viewed generally as the “first of its kind in Africa,” a number of Kenyans expressed their take on the debate through HumanIPO.

Paul Wafula, a doctor,said the process is great and he hopes it will change the negative perception of Kenyans voting for presidential aspirants on the basis of ethnicity.

“We want leaders who will tell us on how they are going to practically improve the country’s economy, create more jobs and boost the economy rather than those who want their tribe mates to rule yet they don’t have the country’s interests at heart,” Wafula said. “Kenya’s economy keeps on deteriorating as a result of leaders who are self-centred and don’t have a clear vision for this nation, let them be warned that their positions are up for grabs.”

Teacher Rose Musikoyo noted: “The project would help Kenyans to evaluate what aspirants can do before voting for them.”

Musikoyo urged media practitioners to create awareness on the roles of posts such as governor and senator as stipulated by the constitution.

“The majority of Kenyans don’t know the roles of governor and senator, including me,” she said.

Technology is the only solution of rolling out to people, says Sharon Kisa Atieno, a second year student.

“This is the best way of reaching out to people, as it’s the modern way of life,” she said. “The process would help reduce negative propaganda and concentrate on issues solution approach.”

Reacting to the live presidential debate move, journalist Dennis Luvembe said the approach will enable voters to vet aspirants before casting their votes.

However, Luvembe differs with the mode of SMS and email, he said: “SMS and email approach applies to people who have mobile phones and can access the Internet, some people especially in the rural areas will be locked out, yet they have real issues.”

The first debate is scheduled for November 26, 2012 the second for January 14, 2013 and the last for February 11, 2013.

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