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Kenya’s Opposition Leader Maintains Lead in Polls

In Kenya, opposition presidential candidate for the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Raila Odinga is reportedly leading significantly in all three different polls released Sunday night ahead of December’s presidential and parliamentary elections. The release of the polls came a day after Odinga officially launched his presidential bid with a reported massive turnout. The polls show Odinga in front with about 47 percent, with incumbent President Mwai Kibaki trailing in second place with about 38 percent. Kalonzo Musyoka of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement-Kenya (ODM- Kenya) follows at a distant third.

From the capital Nairobi, Kenyan political analyst Mustapha Ali tells reporter Peter Clottey that some Kenyans have lost confidence in President Kibaki’s ability to fight graft.

“Even before yesterday’s (Sunday’s) inaugural ODM rally at Uhuru Park, which actually saw Raila launching his presidential bid state house, this poll had already been undertaken by three polling institutions. Raila is leading in all the three polls with massive more than 46 percent, followed closely by his rival Kibaki is incumbent President with about 35-36 percent, and Kalonzo Musyoka who has improved a little bit is still trailing about 13-15 percent,” Ali noted.

He said Sunday’s polls indicate that the opposition ODM presidential candidate could potentially be Kenya’s next president.

“Now what this means is that, Raila is still the favorite of Kenyans. And that if elections were to be called today, then Raila would become the next president of the Republic of Kenya,” he said.

Ali said he doubts President Kibaki can turn things around in his favor ahead of this year’s presidential and parliamentary vote.

“Well, if you asked me this question a month ago I would say yes. But now after yesterday’s rally at Uhuru Park, it seems that Raila is commanding, and is going to command an even bigger lead more than what even most Kenyans expected,” Ali pointed out.

He said one interpretation of Sunday’s polls shows that Kenyans may be distrustful of incumbents like President Kibaki.

“It would be wrong to say all Kenyans have lost hope in Kibaki. Actually, the problem is that a lot of Kenyans are increasingly distrusting the Kibaki administration and his handlers. Right from the time decided that they are not going to go by the draft constitution, the failure to implement the promised new constitution to Kenyans after 100 days of Kibaki’s leadership has spiraled into something very different. And this has made Kenyans to look at Kibaki, and his administration as made up of a dishonest group of people,” he explained.

Ali said although Kenyans are anxious about increasing tribalism creeping into the body politic in the country, Odinga seems to have cut across that tribalism divide.

“I think we all worried that tribalism would indeed raise its ugly head again in Kenyan politics, and this actually did that before the referendum. But now, Raila seems to be cutting across all tribes. He’s been supported by all tribes across Kenya other than only one tribe, which still supports him, but not entirely. And if you look at the people and the leadership that attended Raila’s campaign rally yesterday to launch his presidential bid, then you would see that the leaders coming from across the republic of Kenya,” he pointed out.