Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the frontrunner in the presidential election next month, taunted his rival Uhuru Kenyatta in a debate on Monday, asking how he would be able to rule from The Hague, where Kenyatta goes on trial shortly on charges of crimes against humanity.
The presidential television debate — the first ever held in the country — failed to produce a clear winner, but gave an early taste of what is expected to be a highly charged contest to run east Africa’s economic powerhouse.
Former Kenyan finance minister Kenyatta has been summoned to appear at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague a month after the election to face charges he helped direct ethnic clashes that erupted after a disputed 2007 vote.
If Kenyatta wins this election, his first presidential trip could be to appear in the dock in the Netherlands, alongside his running mate, William Ruto, who has also been charged over the violence. Both deny wrongdoing.
“It will pose serious challenges to run a government by Skype from The Hague. It is not practical,” said Odinga, who has a narrow lead over Kenyatta according to polls.
During the debate between all eight presidential candidates, Kenyatta played down the challenge posed by the global court.
“If Kenyans choose to elect me, it means they have confidence in my ability to address the ICC issue and lead the country. I will be able to clear my name at ICC and at the same time implement my manifesto,” Kenyatta said.
The March 4 poll will be the first under a new constitution and the first since the 2007 violence that killed more than 1,200 people.
All sides have promised there will not be a repeat of the ethnic tensions that fueled the bloodshed.
“I don’t think there was any clear loser,” said Kenyan politician Abdikadir Mohamed, an analyst at the debate.
Lawyer Paul Muite, one of the lower-ranked candidates by most polls, said Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and Odinga, the two rivals in the 2007 vote, should face charges at the ICC.
Martha Karua, the only female candidate, accused politicians of leading “poor” Kenyans to fight in the last vote.
“Politicians do not fight. They shake hands and laugh, as you have seen us doing here. They should not be allowed to call on Kenyans to rise against each other,” the lawyer and former minister said.
The debate was widely followed on Twitter.
“I think if anything it made my decision clearer. It gave me a chance to confirm about what I believed about the candidates,” college student Angela Kamuyu said.
However, interest in the debate flagged as candidates resorted to well-worn rhetoric on how they would tackle insecurity, government corruption and a tattered health and education system.
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,