The West Pokot County gubernatorial debate that was scheduled to take place over the weekend was cancelled after the event turned chaotic. Governor Simon Kachapin and Senator John Lonyangapuo’s supporters clashed as the event was marred by chaos after the two parties failed to agree on the details of the venue.
Senator Lonyangapuo who arrived first at Mtello social hall in Kapenguria raised concerns over the venue, the branding and sitting arrangement of the hall.
Both parties failed to agree on the way forward compelling the Center of Multi party Democracy organization [CMD] which had organized the event to call it off.
Efforts to calm the situation were futile as the rowdy youth continued singing songs in praise of their preferred candidates amidst heckling. The drama lasted for two hours as leaders decided to call for a break to deliberate on the issue but they did not come to an agreement.
Lonyangapuo accused the organizers of relinquishing arrangement responsibilities to the County government. He pointed out it was wrong for the organizers to allow supporters of Jubilee and KANU to put on uniforms, adding that debates should be held on neutral grounds, “Let it be taken to Nasokol Girls, Chewoyet high school because schools are closed or Horizon restaurant which is a neutral ground. All debates in other counties like Kisumu, Nairobi, Trans Nzoia are not done in County government buildings,” he said.
Governor Kachapin argued that the Kenyan flag in the building had nothing to do with the debate “I never knew about the flag. The Kenyan flag was instituted by our forefathers,” he said, “The hall is legally gazetted.”
The West Pokot Governor pointed out that his rival was informed on time, “He had been informed earlier about the venue and now we’ve just wasted time. A hall simply can’t be an excuse because it was constructed for events like this,” he said, adding that the incumbent Senator was scared of the questions lined up for him, “He’s been spreading lies and propaganda about me, saying am a thief, and I wanted to prove him wrong.”
The Center of Multi party Democracy Program manager in charge of Elections and Devolution Mr. Omwenzi Engima said that the organization was done from a neutral point of view. “We’ve decided to cancel the debate after the Governor refused to remove the flag and the atmosphere isn’t favourable. We cannot move to another venue because it takes time to organize such events,” he said, “We’ve talked with the candidates but none was ready to compromise, and we can’t work in an environment with violence.”