Monday, January 14, 2008

US poll shows Kenyan president lost election

Exit polls by a US-based foundation have provided additional support to claims that Kenya’s president Mwai Kibaki in fact lost to challenger Raila Odinga in last month’s presidential elections. The disputed election has led to weeks of violent protests in what had been one of Africa’s most-stable democracies.

Opposition supporters began to almost immediately question the election when government officials refused to release the results as scheduled. Odinga was expected to defeat the incumbent Kibaki. But after several unexplained delays, the results showed Kibaki had won a slim victory. The election commission revised the results several times, giving Kibaki larger margins of victory.

There are now news reports that exit polling conducted by the International Republican Institute show Odinga should have won by eight percentage points.

Even news of the exit poll is causing controversy in Kenya. Supporters of Odinga wonder why the results have not been officially released. Some have suggested it is because the United States wants to keep Kibaki in power because he has been a strong, and unquestioning, ally in the United States War on Terror.

Kenya shares a border with Somalia, considered to be a haven for terrorists in the Horn of Africa. The United States top diplomat for Africa has said the US did not take sides in Kenya’s recent election.

Tensions are likely to rise on Tuesday as opposition leaders are planning a series of protests to mark the opening of Kenya’s parliament.
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