Catholic Activists Decry Omission of Life, Family Agenda in Kenya’s Presidential Debates

Credit: CitizenGO

Past presidential debates in Kenya, as the country heads to the general elections, have failed to address the right to life and other pertinent family issues, Catholic activists in Kenya have said.

In their latest campaign, the activists under their umbrella foundation, Citizen Go, have demanded that Kenya’s presidential debate secretariat asks pertinent questions on family.

“So far a number of debates have been done but we have not heard them being asked on very pertinent issues that affect the common mwananchi (citizen),” the activists say in their July 22 report.

They add, “With one debate to go, we demand that the presidential debate secretariat gets this correct for once and asks some pertinent questions that we fight for or against daily.”

Four presidential aspirants in Kenya were set to participate in their last debate on Tuesday, July 26, ahead of the August 9 elections. 


These include David Mwaure Waihiga (Agano Party), Dr. George Wajackoyah (Roots Party), Raila Odinga (Azimio Coalition Political Party) and William Ruto (United Democratic Alliance-UDA).

In the debate, the four presidential candidates were expected to make public their agenda for the country and also to answer questions that are at the heart of the electorate.

Meanwhile, Azimio spokesman, Prof. Makau Mutua, has announced that Mr. Odinga may not be participating in the debate, citing what he termed as Mr. Ruto’s disregard for morals.

“Our opponent has no regard for ethics, public morals or shame, that is why he has demanded that the debate not focus on corruption, integrity, ethic and governance – the key existential question that Kenya faces. These issues sit at the core of the Azimio campaign. Any debate devoid of these questions will be an insult to the intelligence of Kenyans,” Prof. Mutua said on Sunday, July 24.

In their July 22 report, the activists of CitizenGo lament Kenyan politicians’ tendency to disregard the right to life.

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“The Kenyan constitution is very clear on the family and right to life but we have seen concerted efforts by politicians aligned with various parties pushing for the legalization of abortion and homosexuality,” they said.

They added, in reference to a Bill that sought to legalize abortion in the country, “Honorables Esther Passaris, Susan Kihika, and Millie Odhiambo have led the park of abortionists who have steered very controversial pro-abortion legislation that we have successfully fought against.”

“We thus demand that their party bosses declare their stance on illegalities like abortion and homosexuality during the presidential debate to be held on July 26th, 2022,” the Catholic activists say.

Sponsored in parliament by Gubernatorial candidate Susan Kihika, the Kenya’s Reproductive Healthcare Bill, 2019, requires national and county governments to ensure access to adolescent-friendly reproductive health services. 

The Bill provides a framework for assisted reproduction services by outlining the requirements for surrogate parenthood. It also provides a framework for access to reproductive health services by adolescents.


The Bill has attracted sharp criticism, with Catholic Bishops in Kenya describing it as “deliberately ambiguous.”

“It (Bill) speaks of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, when in fact it simply wishes to introduce in Kenya unhealthy practices,” the members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) said in their June 2020 letter.

They added, “In the past decades, these words have been redefined by various UN agencies to encompass controversial sexual and abortion rights, including for young children.”

Catholic Bishops in Kenya contested the Bill, noting that “it goes against the teaching of the Gospel. It is a Bill against the Constitution, against the right to life and against the protection of children and of the family.”

“As Bishops we respond to our belief that regards abortion as the intentional killing of a human life,” they said.

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And in their July 22 appeal, Catholic activists at CitizenGo called for the people of God to join the campaign to have the remaining presidential campaign in Kenya address issues of family and right to life, saying, “Sign this petition now, demanding that the presidential debate secretariat adds the life and family questions for the debate.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.