Kenyan pres­i­den­tial poll close, sur­vey shows

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

THE RACE for Kenya’s pres­i­dency be­tween in­cum­bent Uhuru Keny­atta and op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga has tight­ened, with less than three weeks be­fore elec­tion day and polls show­ing both can­di­dates lack the sup­port to avoid a sec­on­dround vote.

Odinga, a for­mer prime min­is­ter, is backed by 47% of vot­ers, while Keny­atta is at 46%, ac­cord­ing to a poll by In­fo­trak re­leased in the cap­i­tal, Nairobi, on Sun­day.

A sep­a­rate sur­vey by Ip­sos showed Keny­atta at 47% and Odinga with 43%, up one point from a May sur­vey. A can­di­date needs 50% plus one vote and sup­port from 25 of Kenya’s 47 coun­ties to be the win­ner.

“The out­come will de­pend on vot­ers’ turnout and which side gets more peo­ple out on vot­ing day,” Ip­sos re­searcher Tom Wolf said at a me­dia brief­ing.

“If the op­po­si­tion can do that, they can flip this and they can win.”

Keny­atta, 55, is seek­ing a sec­ond term against 72-year-old Odinga. Kenyan elec­tions heighten in­vestor con­cerns be­cause of un­rest that has oc­curred dur­ing three of the past five na­tional votes.

Odinga, who has failed in three pre­vi­ous pres­i­den­tial bids, has warned he won’t con­cede de­feat if the vote isn’t cred­i­ble and fair.

Kenya is in the throes of a drought that’s spanned three har­vests and cut farm out­puts lead­ing to short­ages of foods, in­clud­ing the sta­ple maize, su­gar and milk.

That has driven the in­fla­tion rate to the high­est level in five years, squeez­ing fam­i­lies in an econ­omy where al­most half of the pop­u­la­tion sur­vives on less than $2 (R26) a day.

About 40% of those polled ex­pressed con­fi­dence in Keny­atta, while 39% said they were con­fi­dent in Odinga, ac­cord­ing to Ip­sos.

About 61% said Kenya was headed in the wrong di­rec­tion, while 44% sup­port the rul­ing Ju­bilee party over the op­po­si­tion Na­tional Su­per Al­liance, which got 42% sup­port, Ip­sos said.

Keny­atta’s chances of win­ning in the first round has de­clined to 49% from 62% in May, ac­cord­ing to Emma Gor­don, se­nior an­a­lyst at Bath, Eng­land-based Verisk Maple­croft.

The race is “too close to call ac­cu­rately” and avoid­ing a sec­ond bal­lot has be­come more dif­fi­cult, Gor­don said.

The gov­ern­ment’s “mis­han­dling” of maize short­ages may boost the op­po­si­tion by swing­ing un­de­cided vot­ers away from Keny­atta, Gor­don pointed out.

About two-thirds of Kenyans said they were worse-off eco­nom­i­cally, cit­ing the high cost of liv­ing, hunger and job­less­ness as the most se­ri­ous prob­lems they grap­ple with daily, Ip­sos said in a sur­vey re­leased last Wed­nes­day.

Among the most ag­grieved are vot­ers in the west­ern Nyanza re­gion, an op­po­si­tion strong­hold, while res­i­dents of east­ern coun­ties com­plain mainly of hunger, Ip­sos said.

“Keny­atta’s chances of se­cur­ing a first-round vic­tory have dra­mat­i­cally fallen over the past months due to a se­ries of scan­dals and mis­steps dur­ing the cam­paign,” Gor­don said.

The In­fo­trak poll shows sup­port for the key par­ties, the gov­ern­ing Ju­bilee Party and main op­po­si­tion Na­tional Su­per Al­liance, tied at 45%, while 49% of those sur­veyed said the na­tion was headed in the wrong di­rec­tion.

PIC­TURE: EPA

Men sit in front of a wall with a mes­sage of peace painted re­cently by lo­cal street artist Solomon Muyundo, also known as Solo7, on its door in Kib­era slum, one of the op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga’s strongholds in the Kenyan cap­i­tal, Nairobi, on Mon­day.

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