• Majority of Kenyans see electoral commission as partial
  • Third of people polled expect violence to follow next vote

Less than half of Kenyans expect next year’s elections to be free and fair, with a similar proportion perceiving the East African nation’s electoral body as impartial, according to a survey.

More than a third of Kenya’s citizens expect there to be violence during the vote, which is scheduled to take place in August 2017, according to the opinion poll conducted by Nairobi-based Infotrak Research and Consulting and published Tuesday.

About 49 percent of respondents to the nationwide poll expect the election to be free and fair, while 47 percent agree that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, which oversees balloting, is free from any political control, Infotrak said.

“According to most of the focus group respondents, the 2017 elections will be free and fair if IEBC is reconstituted,” it said.

Kenyan lawmakers have presented a draft bill to President Uhuru Kenyatta that seeks to overhaul the IEBC, whose officials have been accused of corruption and bias. A U.K. court in January fined Eastbourne, England-based Smith & Ouzman Ltd., a printer of ballot papers, for bribing Kenyan officials in return for business contracts. IEBC Chairman Issack Hassan was questioned about the scandal in March and denied any involvement. No Kenyan officials have been prosecuted over the case.

Second Term

Kenyatta will seek a second term in next year’s vote. He’s expected to face Raila Odinga, the leader of the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy, who warned in an interview in June that violence may erupt after the 2017 elections unless the electoral commission is reformed. At least 1,100 people died and a further 350,000 were forced to flee their homes after a disputed presidential election in 2007 triggered two months of unrest.

About 35 percent of Kenyans are concerned that the vote could be marred by violence according to Infotrak.

Odinga, who has failed on three previous attempts to win a presidential election, is in talks with at least five political parties to form a coalition to compete with a nine-party group led by Kenyatta that’s expected to be constituted next month, the Nairobi-based Daily Nation newspaper reported Aug. 29. People he’s courting include Wiper Democratic Movement leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi of the Amani National Congress and the Kenyan African National Union’s Gideon Moi, son of former President Daniel Arap Moi, it said.

Dennis Onyango, a spokesman for Odinga, said he couldn’t immediately comment when contacted Wednesday.

The Infotrak survey was conducted in June on behalf of the Africa Centre for Open Governance and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

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