Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The writing is on the wall...

An opinion poll conducted early this month and released last Friday by Strategic Research indicates that 62% of Kenyans will vote Yes, 20% of registered voters will choose No while 18% were still undecided.
Curiously 63% interviewed believe that the new draft constitution is a good document but needs amendments. “When we ask them why they vote Yes yet they want amendments, they say the draft is better than the current Constitution,” said Strategic Chief Executive Officer Caesar Handa while releasing the polls. The document is most popular in Nyanza Province where it enjoys 84 percent approval followed by North Eastern at 78 percent while Western is at 73 percent.

The No camp has most of their support in Rift Valley and Eastern Provinces, although relatively low at 32% and 30% respectively. “These two provinces have high percentages of undecided voters at 21% for Eastern and 17% for Rift Valley,” said Mr Handa. The poll from this little known group varies widely with the previous polls carried out by renowned pollsters. The esteemed South Consulting, an organisation that works with the AU Panel of Eminent Persons, released a poll late last month which showed that 49% would vote for the proposed Constitution, while 22% indicated No. The team explained that a decrease for the Yes vote had switched to the 22 percent who were “undecided". Another survey by the commercially run Synovate showed that 57 percent would vote Yes — down by 7% points since April. 20% were against the draft constitution and 19 percent were undecided.

The No camp has consistently disputed the polls saying they are skewed to favour the Yes team which is predominantly a government camp. The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) General Secretary Canon Peter Karanja disputed the Friday polls, saying they are suspicious. The clauses on abortion, Kadhis Courts and the Chapter on Land remain the most discussed and divisive in the ongoing debate.

Following reports that Yes was losing ground in June, Green camp leaders have upped their campaigns often conducting aggressive rallies in their backyard. President Mwai Kibaki has been to Nyeri, Embu and Murang’a while Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has met leaders from his Ukambani region. Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta also met grassroots leaders from the Mount Kenya region in an attempt to consolidate support and tame the rising No popularity.

The referendum campaigns in Kenya have attracted the U.S. congress and civil society and even President Obama whose father is Kenyan; with accusations that the U.S. government has pumped millions into the Yes camp while the civil groups in America are claimed to be funding the No group led by Kenya’s  churches. So I reckon it's even-steven.

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