McClatchy–Kenyan president lost election, U.S. exit poll indicates

The McClatchy Washington Bureau is an excellent resource for news on political events around the world. Here they report on the results of an exit poll commissioned by a US-government backed foundation, which claims to show the incumbent Kenyan president was soundly defeated in the recent disputed election that has set off rioting and inter-ethnic killing sprees.

NAIROBI, Kenya — An exit poll carried out on behalf of a U.S. government-backed foundation indicated that Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki suffered a resounding defeat in last month’s disputed election, according to officials with knowledge of the document.

The poll by the Washington-based International Republican Institute — not yet publicly released — further undermines Kibaki’s claims of a narrow re-election victory. The outcome has sparked protests and ethnically driven clashes nationwide, killing hundreds.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga led Kibaki by roughly 8 percentage points in the poll, which surveyed voters as they left polling places during the election Dec. 27, according to one senior Western official who’s seen the data, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. That’s a sharp departure from the results that Kenyan election officials certified, which gave Kibaki a winning margin of 231,728 votes over Odinga, about 3 percentage points.

U.S. and European observers have criticized the official results, which came after long, unexplained delays in counting the votes, primarily from Kibaki strongholds. Jendayi Frazer, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said over the weekend that there were “serious irregularities in the vote tallying, which made it impossible to determine with certainty the final result.”

It wasn’t clear why the International Republican Institute — which has conducted opinion polls and observed elections in Kenya since 1992 — isn’t releasing its data. A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Kenya confirmed that a poll was conducted but referred questions to the institute, where officials couldn’t be reached for comment.

Kenyan activists called on U.S. officials to release any data that would shed light on election fraud.

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