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Nairobi, Kenya | Thursday 26 August 2010

Kenya: Polls Put PM Ahead of the Pack in 2012 Presidential Race

Opinion polls coming hot on the heels on the referendum on the new constitution put the country’s Prime Minister on the lead.

By Eric Sande

Raila Odinga Prime Minister Raila Odinga is the most preferred candidate for Presidency come 2012. This is according to recent opinion polls conducted by Infotrak between August 13 and 15.

According to the pollsters, Raila leads with 46 per cent, esteem rests at 46 percent, a clean 33 percent gap from his closest challenger and his deputy Uhuru Kenyatta who settled at 13 per cent, Higher Education minister William Ruto 10 percent, Water and Irrigation minister Charity Ngilu 7 per cent, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka 6 per cent, while Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and former Justice minister Martha Karua tie at 4 per cent.

A regional analysis indicates that Raila is endorsed by over 50 per cent of people in all the Provinces apart from Central, Eastern and Rift Valley. Uhuru on the other hand get endorsement mainly from his native Central province where 30 per cent of the people wish to see him as president.

Interestingly,  Karua and President Mwai Kibaki also get a relatively strong showing in Central Province, where they both hail from. Ruto is mostly endorsed in his Rift Valley home turf where 38 per cent would wish to see him as president. However, another 26 per cent from the same province would like to see Raila as president.

As expected, leaders who were shown trailing by the polls dismissed them as a sham. In his characteristic style, Musyoka dismissed the polls as having been doctored to favour certain individuals’ politic al ambitions. It may be recalled that in the run up to the 2007 presidential elections, which were later disputed, opinion polls put Raila on the lead on a number of occasions but each time Kalonzo dismissed them.

Reacting to the latest pools, Musyoka, through his spokesman Kaplich Barsito said Kenyans wanted to focus on the implementation of the new constitution and not the 2012 elections.

One interesting finding from the polls is that if elections were to be conducted today, none of the candidates would pass the new constitutional test and bag over 50 per cent of the votes cast.

“The new constitution stipulates that a presidential candidate must garner an overall 50 per cent plus one vote across the country and 25 per cent of votes in half of the 47 counties. If this be the case, very few candidates seem to stand a chance of making it to the big seat if elections were held today. This in a nutshell brings forth the need for consolidation of alliances in the period culminating to the 2012 elections,” said Infotrak’s chief executive Angela Ambitho.

The poll comes in the wake of a rebirth of a nation that has struggled for decades to have a new constitution. It indicates that the passage of the new constitution has increased the chances of Raila getting the presidency in 2012, but puts it clear that the winning candidate will have to carefully select his or her running mate in order to assert triumph.

Raila on the other hand told the media to steer clear of the 2012 politics adding that the singular focus should be on the implementation of the constitution. Kenya’s next General Election is due in 2012 when President Kibaki retires and would not be eligible for re-election by virtue of having served two terms.

Alliances are clearly shaping the political arena ahead of  2012. There have also been talks of reviving the Kikuyu-Kalenjin-Kamba (KKK) alliance fronted by Vice-President Musyoka, Uhuru and Ruto. Uhuru’s recent visit to Raila’s Nairobi home accompanied by the larger Kenyatta family has also raised eyebrows, with speculations rife that an alliance between the two could be in the offing.  

The founding President Jomo Kenyatta’s cabal of ethnic elite set a bad precedent for this country. Corruption on the other hand pushed the country on the brink of the precipice during ex-President Daniel Moi’s regime, eventually finding its way into the Kibaki administration.

It will be an uphill task for the next President who will struggle to restore the country’s lost glory.

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