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Survey Says Most Kenyans Support Government


An opinion poll by a U.S.-based, political party research organization, shows that a majority of Kenyans support the government, despite a series of corruption scandals.

The poll, organized by the International Republican Institute, examines the political issues most important to Kenyan voters, four years after the country's first democratic, multi-party elections.

A Kenyan research company, Strategic Public Relations and Research, carried out the survey on behalf of the International Republican Institute, interviewing slightly more than 3,000 Kenyan voters around the country.

Nearly two-thirds of those polled believe that corruption has increased or stayed the same since 2002, but they say that job creation and poverty reduction are now the primary concerns for most voters.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and his National Rainbow Coalition party came to power in 2002, pledging to end the rampant corruption which defined the more than two-decade rule of Daniel arap Moi. But President Kibaki's government has also been plagued by allegations of corruption, which have further tarnished Kenya's international image.

Strategic Public Relations and Research spokesman Peter Oriare says the company was surprised by the apparent lack of concern about corruption.

"Kenya does not rate the fight on corruption very highly," he said. "When you look at the issues, it rates very low in the ratings. I think that is surprising, considering the fact, the media have been talking about corruption a lot lately."

The resident director for the International Republican Institute's East Africa office, Peter Mackenzie, says the public is focused on some of the government's more positive achievements.

"There is still grudging support for the government," he said. "There are political issues in which people feel the government has performed - [for example] free primary education. There is a feeling the economy is beginning to grow a little faster, so people are giving the government some credit for that."

While the poll may bring some relief to President Kibaki's beleaguered government, next year's election promises to be a tight contest. The poll indicates that nearly half of the Kenyan voters believe the country is generally headed in the wrong direction.

One potential presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, from the Orange Democratic Movement, is betting that Kenyans still regard corruption as a top election issue. In recent days, Odinga has begun a high-profile campaign, organizing political rallies and media campaigns, which criticize the Kibaki government's failure to stamp out corruption.

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