Sunday, April 19, 2009



April 18 2009

Most Kenyans favour early elections as a solution to persistent wrangling within the grand coalition government, a new opinion poll released on Saturday shows.

Steadman poll
It also indicates that support for the power-sharing agreement between President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga has plummeted by a whopping 44 points from a high of 77 per cent in July last year to 33 per cent today.

According to the survey by Synovate (formerly Steadman Group), half the respondents think new elections are the only solution to easing tensions between the coalition partners Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and the Party of National Unity (PNU).

The next General Election is scheduled for 2012.

According to the poll, more than half of those who favour fresh elections as a way out of the persistent quarrels among political leaders would like to see them happen before 2012, while 35 per cent would like the national accord between President Kikabi and Mr Odinga renegotiated. Thirteen per cent favour the status quo.

“The further we get away from the post-election violence, the less Kenyans are worried about the disagreements in government which manifest themselves as being just normal politics,” Synovate’s political consultant Tom Wolf explained.

“They see the disagreements as happening in a political box.”

The report comes only two days after President Kibaki announced that he would consult Mr Odinga on future major government appointments and announcements.

This followed a meeting of the permanent cabinet committee on the management of the coalition government on Thursday where the two partners reportedly agreed to end the wrangles.

So sharp have been the differences that an earlier meeting of the committee called two weeks ago in Kilaguni did not take place after the two groups failed to agree on an agenda.

On Wednesday, Mr Odinga wrote to President Kibaki asking him to postpone Thursday’s Cabinet meeting until all pending matters had been sorted out.

The two principals subsequently held a meeting at which it was agreed that the committee on the management of the coalition would convene on Thursday. The Thursday meeting appeared to have ended amicably, easing tensions that had risen over a fortnight.

The poll was conducted between last Monday and Friday during which time the two sides are believed to have worked out a solution to their differences.

The telephone survey of 22,035 respondents indicates that a vast majority of Kenyans are dissatisfied with the performance of the government in key areas.

More than 90 per cent expressed disapproval over its lack of success in fighting corruption, eradicating poverty and controlling spiralling food prices.

More than 60 per cent of those polled said they were satisfied with the government’s performance in supplying of electricity, creating access to primary and secondary education, health services and building a road network.

“In terms of individual leaders, Kenyans are more dissatisfied with the performance of President Kibaki,” than with that of the prime minister, Mr Wolf said.

Forty-eight per cent of Kenyans are not happy with the President’s performance compared with 36 per cent who are dissatisfied with the performance of Raila Odinga and 38 per cent who expressed dissatisfaction with Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka.
But Mr Wolf warned that it was not clear whether any government’s performance would have gained higher approval if there were no power-sharing deal and with the world facing a financial crisis.

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Steadman poll
Rating institutions, respondents gave Parliament the lowest score with a massive 97 per cent of Kenyans saying they do not trust their MPs.

Mr Musyoka is the most trusted political figure with a 15 per cent approval rating, while the PM and the President were given 11 per cent and 9 per cent approval ratings, respectively.

The harsh verdict on Parliament comes just days before MPs are scheduled to return for the Third Session of the Tenth Parliament.

They face a backlog of matters including the establishment of an interim electoral body, a boundaries review commission, a truth, justice and reconciliation commission and a special tribunal to try suspects involved in last year’s post-election violence.