Power sharing to shape Kenya referendum

December 7, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 7 – An opinion poll released on Monday says most Kenyans place the subject of devolution of power to regions as their most significant reason for voting in the anticipated referendum on the draft Constitution.

The poll conducted by the anti-graft agency Transparency International (Kenya Chapter) said one in three Kenyans interviewed cited devolution as the major reason that will influence their voting decisions.

Decentralisation of power which has been a matter of debate in political circles, ranked high in Coast and Western Provinces with half the population in these areas supporting it.

 “Of course, it depends how these people understand devolution. To them it is simply that they want to have the power to decide. In the past we have seen fiscal devolution where MPs have voted money to the grassroots and rushed back to see its implementation. Kenyans are saying they want to participate in the process,” research officer Mwangi Kibathi said.

Other factors that will influence voting are religious views, tribal inclinations and stands taken by political parties

The survey was conducted within the week prior to the release of the Harmonised Draft Constitution (November 11-18) and saw 1,718 people interviewed.

“The issue of devolution seems like a very hot issue. What really didn’t come out is what they expect from this devolution of power,” said Mr Kibathi.

Mr Kibathi however said that they were impressed by the high level of awareness of the plebiscite at 83 percent, while 75 percent said they are aware of the ongoing debate on the constitution.

The poll report says half of the respondents polled said their political decisions were shaped from “discussions with friends”.

The rest depended on media 12 percent, religious views 9 percent, ethnic meetings 8 percent and in their homes 19 percent.

"But we are yet to ascertain whether the women (22 percent) who make their decisions at home do so independently or they are coerced," he said.

The anti-graft watchdog expressed concern that in the face of the political confusion over the conservation of the Mau Forest, ethnicity was likely to take the lead as people align themselves to support their tribal chieftains.


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