Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will not take part in two planned televised debates with his main rival Raila Odinga ahead of the August 8 election, his party said on Wednesday.
The first of the debates organised by a consortium of Kenyan media was scheduled for Monday and the second on July 24.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta will not participate in the presidential debates,” David Murathe, vice chairman of the ruling Jubilee Party said Wednesday, citing insufficient consultation and format issues.
Kenyatta and Odinga are the only two candidates with more than five percent in recent opinion polls and were thus meant to go head to head. The other six candidates are due to participate in an earlier debate.
Kenya held its first ever televised presidential debate in 2013, including both Kenyatta and Odinga. Afterwards, Kenyatta complained that he had been unfairly targeted by moderators.
Kenyans go to the polls next month in national elections choosing from 14,500 candidates contesting in a series of races for president, governor, parliament and county assembly seats.
The vote comes a decade after the worst electoral violence in Kenyan history when over 1,100 people were killed in politically motivated ethnic violence.
The presidential race is predicted to be close with Odinga heading an unprecedented opposition alliance in the hope of winning in his fourth run for the top job.
The election could swing either way, with five million new voters among the 19 million registered compared to the 2013 presidential polls.
On Monday, the European Union warned against possible violence in the upcoming elections, while advocacy group Human Rights Watch said it had documented cases of intimidation and threats.