Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta would beat Prime Minister Raila Odinga in a presidential run-off if elections were held today, according to an Ipso-Synovate opinion poll released yesterday. The results came out the same day the International Criminal Court stated the Ocampo Six suspects are free to run for political office since the ICC process and Kenya’s political system are independent of each other.
ICC spokesperson and Head of Public Affairs Unit Fadi El Abdallah said the court would not interfere if the suspects run for elective positions even after their charges are confirmed. “The suspects are free to do anything they want, as long as they don’t defy the rules that have ensured their freedom,” said Abdallah.
Despite a clean bill of health from ICC, the suspects may have to contend with Chapter Six of the Kenyan constitution on leadership and integrity of public officers. Uhuru and Eldoret North MP William Ruto, both 2007-08 post-election violence suspects at the Hague, have declared their interest in the presidency 2012.
According to the Ipso-Synovate opinion poll, Raila risks losing out to Uhuru if the G7 forces a run-off between the two leaders. The poll indicates that a run-off between Uhuru and Raila would be tight with slightly more voters at 44 per cent for Uhuru while Raila would get 41 per cent. “Fifteen per cent of the voters are, however, undecided about whom they would vote for,” said Ipso-Synnovate CEO Maggie Ireri.
She said the 15 per cent of undecided voters are enough to tilt the victory to either Raila or Uhuru. Ireri said the percentage of undecided voters in this poll was “not usual” since it should be around five per cent for a conclusive survey.
However, the poll shows that overall Raila remains the most popular presidential candidate with the support of 34 per cent of those polled, followed by Uhuru with 24 per cent. Ruto comes in third with 10 per cent, Kalonzo Musyoka 9 per cent, Martha Karua 5 per cent and Eugene Wamalwa 2 per cent.
Two thousand respondents were polled between October 15 and 23. They were asked whom they would vote for in case there was a run-off pitting certain candidates against each other. The poll presented run-off scenarios for all the candidates against Raila. In a Raila vs Ruto run-off, Raila would win with 46 per cent against Ruto’s 29 per cent. This scenario had 25 per cent of undecided voters. Raila vs Kalonzo would have the PM take 44 per cent against the VP’s 37 per cent, with 19 per cent of voters undecided.
In the rest of the scenarios within the G7 alliance, Uhuru is still the clear winner against Ruto and Kalonzo. Allies of Raila, Uhuru, Kalonzo and Ruto reacted to the poll after its release. Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba said he has a lot of respect for opinion polls so long as they are accurate. “In this case it is impossible to determine the question of run-off, which has not arisen. Any of the G7 candidates is very easy fodder for Raila, especially Uhuru is the easiest to defeat,” Ababu said.
Ababu maintained that run-off or not, Raila would be the Fourth President of Kenya. Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri praised the poll. “In a run-off no single candidate will surpass five points. The run-off will either be between Raila, Uhuru or Ruto,” Kiunjuri said. Assistant minister Kabando wa Kabando asked the pollsters to forget about individuals and look at institutions and manifestos of political parties. “PNU will be a winning team once it rolls out its manifesto; not polls based on individuals,” said Kabando.
Deputy chief whip Johnstone Muthama faulted the poll for concentrating on the four possible candidates yet there are many Kenyans who are yet to declare their interest in the presidency. “People will be surprised come 2012 … there is nothing special about these few names being talked about because some people who are not politicians have not declared,” Muthama said.
Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny doubted the figures. “Raila might not make it to the run-off if each of the G7 candidates contests at the first contest,” Kuttuny said, arguing it is still too early to count on opinion polls. Nominated MP George Nyamweya said he has little faith in the way opinion polls are done. “We are one year away to the elections … many variables will alter the current situation,” said Nyamweya, a vice chair of PNU, the party led by Internal Security minister George Saitoti who also is vying for the presidency.
The poll indicated that only 27 per cent of Kenyans are aware of the 50-per-cent-plus-one requirement to win the presidency. Only eight per cent of people in Western province are aware of the rule while Coast’s awareness is 13 per cent. Nairobi, Central and Nyanza recorded the highest awareness on the requirement while the remaining provinces were below 30 per cent.