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Public Opinion Poll Shows Kenyan Opposition Leading Ahead of General Elections - 2002-12-09

A public opinion poll released Monday in Kenya indicates the opposition National Rainbow Coalition, known as NARC, will likely win the December 27 general elections. The poll says Uhuru Kenyatta, the presidential candidate of the ruling KANU party, is trailing opposition candidate Mwai Kibaki.

The director of Strategic Public Relations and Research Limited, Peter Oriare, said it appears that a great majority of Kenyans have already decided which candidates and parties they are going to vote for.

"An overwhelming majority of the respondents have already decided on the political parties of their choice to vote for in the next general elections. Sixty-eight-point-two percent of those interviewed will vote for NARC, 21.7 percent Kanu, 8.1 percent Ford People and 1.4 percent SDP (Social Democratic Party). Sixty-eight-point-two percent of those interviewed across the republic will vote for NARC presidential candidate Mwai Kibaki, with 21.4 percent voting for KANU's Uhuru Kenyatta, and another 8.2 percent voting for Ford People's Simeon Nyachae, and 1.5 percent voting for SDP's presidential candidate, James Orengo," Mr. Oriare said.

According to the constitution, a winning presidential candidate must get 25 percent of the votes in at least five of the eight provinces. If that does not happen, the first and second place candidates go to a run-off election. Mr. Oriare said the findings show that only one candidate, the National Rainbow Coalition's Mwai Kibaki will meet this requirement.

"You will notice that Kibake gets the mandatory 25 percent in all the provinces. Uhuru Kenyatta gets the mandatory 25 percent in only three provinces, namely Rift valley 31.1 percent, north eastern 42.6 percent and central province 30.4 percent," he said. "Nyachae gets the mandatory 25 percent only in one province, that is in Nyanza province, with 29.3 percent. James Orengo does not get 25 percent in any province, according to the survey which we did," he said.

The opinion poll, which was commissioned by the U.S. advocacy group, the International Republican Institute, drew a sample of 3,000 respondents in various parts of Kenya. It was conducted between November 17 and 20.

The poll was conducted before the nomination of candidates by various political parties. It was also conducted before a road accident that has left the leading opposition candidate, Mwai Kibaki, hospitalized in London.

Mr. Oriare said these two events may influence the outcome of the poll, but not to a significant degree. He says most Kenyans are optimistic that the election will give them the chance to shape the destiny of the country, and have already made up their minds on how to vote.

The poll also showed that Kenyans have confidence in the Electoral Commission, the body conducting the election.

Incumbent President Daniel arap Moi is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election.