Poll shows Kenya government popular despite graft concerns
New York Times

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Public support is growing for Kenya’s government despite corruption scandals that diplomats say are damaging the east African nation’s image at home and abroad, an opinion poll said on Monday.

The International Republican Institute (IRI) survey was carried out before President Mwai Kibaki reappointed two ministers earlier this month following their resignation over graft claims — a move that surprised many observers.

But it found rising public support for Kibaki’s government, which took office in 2002 with promises to end corruption.

“A majority of Kenyans are now optimistic about the direction of their country, with nearly 60 percent saying Kenya is headed in the right direction,” U.S. advocacy group IRI said in a statement, adding that this was a 13 percent increase on a poll in June.

The new survey interviewed some 3,000 Kenyans between November 3-7 and found a majority — 59.5 percent — listed economic development as their most important target for the government.

It also said a majority — 56.8 percent — believed corruption had “increased or remained the same since the 2002 elections”, IRI said. Just over half those asked (51.2 percent) believed the government was committed to fighting graft.

In the latest criticism of corruption in Kenya, U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger urged the authorities last week to send a clear message and bring the guilty to book.

In an unusual move, a Kenyan spokesman said the government appreciated the “diplomatic and informed manner” of the ambassador’s comments, and the comments that he posed.

The official had regularly told foreign envoys to stop meddling in Kenya’s domestic affairs.

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