Support for the International Criminal Court (ICC) remains high in Kenya as the country awaits the decision of the pre-trial chamber on whether six Kenyan suspects should stand trial, according to two opinion polls released this week.
One opinion poll notes that respondents who believe violence is likely to occur if the Kenya cases proceed to trial has steadily increased between October and December last year. The same poll found, however, that more people believe violence is unlikely than those who do.
A pre-trial court of the ICC has until January 23 to issue its decision on who goes to trial, or not, of six Kenyan suspects facing multiple charges of crimes against humanity for violence that nearly tore apart Kenya after the December 2007 presidential election.
Public support for the International Criminal Court process stands at 64 percent as of December last year, according to a poll released on Tuesday by South Consulting. This is a slight increase from an October poll South Consulting conducted, which had public support at 62 percent.
South Consulting is the firm monitoring and evaluating the series of agreements that ended the violence that shook Kenya between December 2007 and February 2008 and left more than 1,000 people dead. The African Union panel led by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan that mediated those agreements hired South Consulting to track progress in implementing the agreements on its behalf because none of the members are based in Kenya.
On Thursday, another firm, Ipsos Synovate, released their latest poll on Kenyans’ perceptions of the ICC process and other social and political issues in the country. The Ipsos Synovate poll, which was also conducted in December last year, found that 54 percent of respondents support the ICC process. This is a slight drop from October last year when that support was at 59 percent.
Ipsos Synovate Managing Director Maggie Ireri stated that Kenyans are still divided over the ICC process, as according to their poll, supporters and opponents are almost 50-50.
“I think the country right now is quite interesting and tense,” Ireri said as she laid out the key findings of their latest opinion poll. She said that because opposition to the ICC process was highest in four out of the country’s eight provinces, the judges’ decision will also influence the calculations of key political players.
The provinces that showed the highest opposition to the ICC process in the Ipsos Synovate poll are Central, Eastern, Northeastern, and Rift Valley. Two of the suspects – Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and former Higher Education Minister William Samoei Ruto – have declared their interest in running for president. Both, however, have yet to secure the ticket of a political party. Kenyatta’s political base is Central Province while Ruto’s is in the Rift Valley. A date is yet to be set for Kenya’s next election, but a court ruled last week that the polls must be held by March 2013.
“Depending on the outcome of what the judges are going to say, it will definitely affect the political alignments,” Ireri said.
The South Consulting poll stated that 36 percent of respondents said violence is somewhat likely or very likely if the Kenya cases proceed to trial. This is slightly lower than the 41 percent who said violence is unlikely. South Consulting notes, however, that the December 2011 figure is an increase compared to when respondents were asked the same question in October. Then only 23 percent said violence is somewhat likely or very likely.
“The shift may be attributed to local discourses of victimisation,” South Consulting said in its report. “In many parts of the country, perceptions that the six suspects “are not the ones who bear the greatest responsibility continue to dominate public debate on the ICC process.”
The South Consulting poll covers other areas such as what is the most important issue for Kenyans (the high cost of living). The poll was conducted December 3-9, 2011 and involved face to face interviews with 2,500 respondents. Its margin of error is plus or minus 1.5 percent.
The Ipsos Synovate poll was conducted December 12-19, 2011 and the 2,000 respondents were interviewed face to face. Its margin of error is plus or minus 2.2 percent.
South Consulting’s latest poll and quarterly report on the Kenya agreements is available at: www.dialoguekenya.org.
The latest Ipsos Synovate poll is available at: www.synovate.co.ke.