Deputy President William Ruto, who is the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) presidential candidate, has withdrawn from the 2022 presidential debate scheduled for July ahead of August 9, 2022.
In a statement issued on Thursday, UDA Communications head Hussein Mohammed said Ruto’s withdrawal from the presidential debate was due to media bias.
“We have noted with much concern the repeated and continued bias and propaganda in a section of Kenya’s mainstream media in abuse of statutory,” he said.
“Under the current partisan media environment, we have advised our candidate against participating in the presidential debate.”
Mohammed said Political news is a matter of public interest and its coverage therefore by journalists, media practitioners or media enterprises has to be done fairly, accurately and with all sides of the story being reported.
“This has been deliberately contravened, ignored and bravely abused by the sections of the media,” he said.
Kenya’s presidential debate, which started in 2013, is usually organized jointly by the Media Owners Association, Media Council of Kenya and Kenya Editors Guild.
“Media houses do not have preferred candidates in the upcoming election…they are in the hands of respectful professionals and that’s why this will be independently managed,” said Kenya Editors Guild President Churchill Otieno
According to Nation Media Group CEO Stephen Gitagama, the presidential and deputy presidential debates are aimed at helping them make informed decisions in the August polls.
“Given how critical this is we have today launched a journey that will guide Kenyans in this electoral process. The platform is very important to the candidates. I remain optimistic that they will attend,” he said in May when the team announced the 2022 presidential debate.
UDA has been decrying getting minimal media coverage, particularly on Citizen TV compared to Azimio led by Raila Odinga.