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Presidential candidates in Kenya clash on issues in presidential debate

26.02.2013  13:05
But significantly for a peaceful outcome of the elections on 4 March they present themselves as competitors, not enemies.

For the first time in Kenya´s history presidential candidates have met and debated on live television prior to the elections. The second of the debates took place last night at BrookHouse School  in Nairobi.

And that augurs well for the elections on 4. March according to Con Omore, who is programme manager for the governance programme at the Danish Embassy.

- The two debates provided a good platform to hold the leaders publicly to account. The mere fact that they were meeting on live transmission – it has never happened in Kenya before – will hold them to account, says Con Omore.

Significantly there was an appearance of non-hostility.

- The candidates made a conscious decision to show Kenyans that they are competitors and not enemies, so that Kenyans do not resort to violence. Kenyans tend to fight because of disagreement between their leaders, meaning that the tone in the debate can contribute to stopping Kenyans from resorting to violence, says Con Omore, who adds that the candidates embraced the debate as a good opportunity “to sell their policies”.

More than 1.100 people were killed and 650.000 others were displaced during postelection violence in Kenya in 2007/2008.

Among the issues discussed during the debates were economy, corruption, governance, social services and land, which is a big issue in Kenya, who has many internally displaced people, squatters and a lot of huge landowners.  All the candidates did also express a pledge for peace and non-violence and promised to use the judiciary process in case of complaints and disputes with the election process.