The biggest winners in the 27 December general and local government elections may not be the elected presidential, parliamentary and civic candidates but advertising and media firms.

The three main political parties have spent a staggering KSh161 million on advertising since 1 October, according to the latest report by the Coalition on Political Financing, a group of local and international civil society organisations. This compares to a total of Ksh66 million spent on advertising during the 2002 general election campaign. The Party of National Unity (PNU) has spent KSh119 million, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) KSh39 million and ODM-Kenya KSh3 million.

Parties have also been hiring crowds for rallies and paying them up to KSh2,000 per person to stand and listen.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya, Samuel Kivuitu, has criticised the state-run broadcaster, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), for being biased in favour of the incumbent president Mwai Kibaki of PNU, who is seeking a second term in office. KBC has issued a statement denying the charge, which has also been laid by an elections media monitoring unit sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme and several Western countries.

The two other main presidential candidates are Raila Odinga of ODM and Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka of ODM-Kenya.