Presidential debate: What Ruto said in 2017 versus his 2022 sentiments
Presidential debates are slowly becoming an entrenched tradition in Kenya's electoral system. Despite being criticized on both substantive and stylistic grounds, debates have always offered presidential hopefuls a platform to argue their case in the full glare of the electorate.
With just 13 days left to the August polls, presidential campaigns have hit a fever pitch and preparations for the 2022 presidential debate are in top gear.
Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his Roots party counterpart have threatened to boycott the much-awaited event.
Kenya Kwanza Presidential candidate William Ruto, who was a no-show during the 2017 Deputy Presidential debate, has however confirmed his attendance at this year's event.
Ruto's 2017 stance on Presidential debate
Ruto has come under sharp criticism after a video of him defending his absence from the 2017 Deputy Presidential debate emerged.
In the video that has since gone viral, the DP is heard criticizing the 2017 presidential debate secretariat.
At the time, Ruto who was under the Jubilee party accused the organizers of blackmailing him and the then-presidential candidate President Uhuru Kenyatta.
"Aside from the failure to engage us on a modus operandi on the framework for the debate, the issues, the people to be involved… now we are being told if you don't show for the debate, we are going to give your competitor one and a half hours of free airtime to hammer you. So, it has boiled down to blackmail," Ruto stated at the time.
In his response to the alleged blackmail, Ruto stated that they were comfortable with Raila being granted free airtime.
"It is fine if that's what it is, one and a half hours is fine or even a day of free airtime even a week is better," Ruto added.
Ruto's 2022 sentiments about Presidential debate
Ruto, in what appears as a change of heart about the event, took a swipe at Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga for threatening to boycott the Presidential debate slated for Tuesday, July 26.
While taking a swing at the former premier, Ruto said that Raila had chickened out of the debate because he did not have an agenda for the people of Kenya.
"He has feared going for the debate because they have no plan and agenda. They have no policies to sell, that is why they are wondering what they will come to do in the debate,
"That man who is full of rhetoric lacks clarity on what he wants for Kenyans," Ruto told supporters during a rally in Erera grounds, Kisii on Sunday, July 24.