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Handshake still enjoys great support but growing cold

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The handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga enjoys great national support, but not as much as it did in August, a new opinion poll indicates.

The promise and warmth has worn off in contrast to an August poll when it enjoyed 87 per cent backing.

A fresh poll conducted between November 29 and December 1, and financed by Integrated Development Network, an NGO, shows that 20 per cent of Kenyatta’s Central turf do not back the handshake.

Though Mt Kenya support had dropped, the March 9 deal enjoys 74 per cent support in Mt Kenya.

Countrywide, 78 per cent are still enthusiastic about the handshake that brought a truce in national politics, 17 have not warmed up to it while a paltry five per cent are undecided.

Rift Valley and Coast regions tie at 19 percent for those opposed to the handshake.

Nyanza, North Eastern and Nairobi top the list of the regions that support the handshake that ended the political tension in the country after the protracted 2017 presidential election that led to court disputes and boycotts.

The three regions polled 88, 86 and 78 percent respectively in their support.

“Eight out of every 10 Kenyans support the handshake between President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga,” Angela Ambitho, the CEO of Infortrack, said yesterday.

Reason for the support of the handshake include bringing peace and unity (81%), cooling political temperatures (19%) and reducing tribalism (12%).

Ambitho said the reasons given by those not for the handshake is that it was not genuine, has weakened the oversight role of the opposition and that it will only benefit the two politicians.

At the same time, support for the Building Bridges Initiative chaired by Garissa senator Yusuf Haji is at 69 per cent, opposed by 17 per cent while 15 per cent are undecided.

Read: Gains and fears from handshake year after hotly contested polls

The initiative is popular in North Eastern (77%), followed by Nyanza (74%) and Central at position three with 70%.

The lowest support for the initiate, currently conducting public hearings on how best to resolve some of the challenges facing the country, are Eastern, Coast and Nairobi with a tie of 22 percent

“Seven out of every 10 Kenyans support the Building Bridges Initiative…the key reasons for supporting the initiative are that there is peace in the country (58%), it will bring political stability (31%) and that it promotes unity (28%),” say the report.

The main reasons for not supporting the initiative are that it is meant for selfish political gains (58%), it will bring no development (31%) and that it favours a few select people (19%) and divided political parties (5%).

On the much talked about referendum, the support for and against is almost equal at 45 per cent for and 44 per cent against. Twelve per cent are undecided.

The support for the constitutional change stands at Central (55%), Nyanza (52%) Nairobi (46%), Rift Valley (53%), Eastern (51%) and Western (47%).

The support is driven by the need to reduce the number of elected representatives so as to cut on public expenditure (50%), to fill gaps identified in the current constitution (29%) and equality and inclusivity (28%).

Those opposed to the idea say it is pointless to change the constitution now stand at (32%), it is expensive to conduct a referendum (30%) and it being pushed for the self-interest of the politicians (19%).

Also Read: Handshake reward: Uhuru, Raila honoured with ‘Black history peace Award’

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