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Viewing cable 06NAIROBI1114, AN UNSETTLED KENYA AWAITS NEXT SHOE TO DROP

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06NAIROBI1114 2006-03-10 12:12 2011-02-27 23:11 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Nairobi
Appears in these articles:
http://www.the-star.co.ke/
VZCZCXRO5212
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHNR #1114/01 0691248
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 101248Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0207
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1899
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1878
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA  PRIORITY
RUEHNA/DEA HQS WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNFB/FBI WASH DC PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 NAIROBI 001114 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
NOFORN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: (X1) 
TAGS: PINS SNAR ASEC ECON PREL KCOR KDEM KE
SUBJECT: AN UNSETTLED KENYA AWAITS NEXT SHOE TO DROP 
 
REF: A. NAIROBI 1077 
 
     B. NAIROBI 988 NAIROBI 974 
     C. NAIROBI 945 
 
Classified By: PolCouns Michael J. Fitzpatrick; Reasons: 1.4(b,c,d) 
 
1. (S)  SUMMARY: President Kibaki publicly stands firm behind 
the Kenyan Police raid on the Standard Media Group. 
Meanwhile, Standard journalists and others privately say the 
raids were prompted by a State House belief that the paper 
possesses documents implicating the President's family in 
grand-scale corruption, possibly including narcotics 
trafficking.  First Lady Lucy Kibaki has reportedly 
personally threatened to "burn down the Standard" unless the 
information on her is relinquished. Even as the government 
ridicules claims of "foreign mercenaries" in the country, 
political opponents and journalists believe unofficial Second 
Wife Mary Wambui is behind the foreigners -- and the cocaine 
trafficking. Opposition leaders say they are being 
blackmailed to keep quiet; shocked by the steps already 
taken, they privately fear a cornered government will move to 
arrest them, with or without charges. And they worry about 
the possible use of lethal force.  END SUMMARY. 
 
UNDER SEIGE, STATE HOUSE STANDS BY ITS MAN 
========================================== 
2. (C) After a week of silence, President Kibaki has spoken 
-- he will not sack any ministers or others implicated in the 
March 2 police raids on the Standard Media Group (reftels). 
Appearing in Eldoret March 8, the President bluntly declared 
that even if the public "hates" the Security Minister, there 
is nothing they can do about it -- John Michuki will stay at 
his post.  Notably, Kibaki made the statement in the company 
of three individuals known to be at war with each other over 
how to respond to the crisis -- First Lady Lucy Kibaki (who 
supports Michuki), Policy Adviser Stanley Murage (allied with 
"unofficial" Second Lady Mary Wambui, he is long opposed to 
both Michuki and Lucy's influence) and Police Commissioner 
Ali (incensed at having been cut out of Michuki's order for 
the police raid on the media house). 
 
FOREIGN "MERCENARIES" CONFIRMED 
=============================== 
3. (S/NF) The presence in Kenya of armed foreigners working 
on behalf of ruling elements has alarmed many Kenyans, both 
in and out of government.  Despite repeated government 
denials, post believes foreigners were indeed directly 
involved in the police raids.  One journalist who escaped the 
raids privately tells us police contacts warned him weeks 
earlier that foreigners had been imported to protect the 
First Family from public corruption charges.  One of those 
arrested told PolCouns several of the March 2 raiders were 
white -- and "no African would call us what he did."  Another 
Standard journalist says a source close to State House has 
offered to sell the paper copies of the passport pages and 
work permits of the foreigners.  (Popularly called "Russians" 
and "mercenaries," post has separately confirmed the 
foreigners are traveling on a variety of passports from what 
used to be termed "East Bloc" nations.) 
 
4. (S) Opposition and media figures believe the "mercenaries" 
were imported to suppress information on State House 
corruption.  They assert the foreigners arrived last December 
-- after the government got word that John Githongo, the 
government's exiled corruption czar, was to go public with 
his detailed accounts of State House corruption. (Githongo's 
'"dossier" was serialized in The Nation newspaper in 
January.)  Some believe these same foreigners played a role 
(via the Akasha crime family) in the 2004 cocaine shipments 
seized in Kenya, and have now returned to intimidate 
opponents (in or out of government) from releasing 
information incriminating State House in any illicit 
activities.  Philip Murgor, sacked in 2005 as Director of 
Public Prosecutions for investigating the cocaine, told 
PolCouns March 9 the mercenaries were brought into Kenya at 
the direction of Second Lady Mary Wambui, State House Advisor 
Stanley Murage and Police CID Chief Joseph Kamau (who 
formally was in charge of the police raids on the Standard). 
Wambui, it is alleged, brought them back to Kenya after a 
December trip to Dubai in the company of none other than 
Kamlesh Pattni -- the man behind the Moi-era Goldenberg 
corruption scandal.  (Others separately told D/PolCouns this 
week that Wambui spent USD 600,000 cash during a December 
trip to Dubai.) 
 
 
NAIROBI 00001114  002 OF 003 
 
 
5. (C)  The mercenaries initially stayed at the Pattni-owned 
Grand Regency Hotel -- until the media reported that fact. 
(NOTE:  Even before the raid, Murgor told PolCouns Pattni had 
wired the Presidential Suite at the Grand Regency for sound 
and audio; Wambui and CID Chief Kamau were said to be among 
those using the suite to entertain any number of Kenyan 
business and political figures.  END NOTE.) Focus then 
shifted to a house in the upscale Runda neighborhood (where a 
number of Embassy families reside) -- until opposition LDP 
leader Raila Odinga March 8 provided the Police Commissioner, 
and then the media, with the address. 
 
6. (C) Coincidentally, Emboffs stumbled upon the house on 
Glory Road hours before Odinga even gave his police 
statement.  A number of civilians were beating a man and had 
set a dog upon him; he escaped as neighbors went to his aid. 
Confronted by the angry crowd, one attacker drew a pistol and 
identified himself as police.  Privately, neighbors said a 
white foreigner moved in several months ago -- accompanied by 
several black (but likely non-Kenyan) "bodyguards" who 
threatened them.  Neighbors said they had speculated that 
narcotics or other illicit activities were being conducted 
from the house. The next day, however, CID Chief Kamau 
publicly claimed the house had been vacant for many months. 
In conversation with PolCouns March 9, Presidential advisor 
Murage laughed at any claims of foreign involvement, claiming 
Odinga "is an expert in guerrilla warfare; you can expect him 
to claim the unbelievable." 
 
IT'S THE FIRST FAMILY(IES), STUPID 
================================== 
7. (S)  A Standard journalist told PolCouns March 10 the 
raids occurred because State House believed he was going to 
expose the First Family.  (NOTE:  This journalist has written 
the most detailed and damaging of published reports related 
to the December 2004 seizures of more than one ton of 
cocaine.  END NOTE.)  His reasons:  First, though he had 
nothing to do with the article that officially prompted the 
raid (suggesting a secret Presidential deal with an 
opposition leader), he was publicly sought for arrest. 
(Having secured a police bond against arrest, he has since 
submitted a statement that he neither researched nor wrote 
nor edited the article.)  Second, those colleagues that were 
arrested privately state that police officers told them they 
were looking for papers implicating both/both presidential 
wives in corruption:  Official First Lady Lucy in the 
Anglo-Leasing scandal and Unofficial Wife Two Mary Wambui in 
cocaine shipments.  One police officer, a longtime friend of 
the paper's editors, confided that "this dossier is explosive 
and can bring down the government" -- which they had been 
instructed not to allow.  (One of those arrested separately 
confirmed this to PolCouns.) 
 
8. (S) Third, Four CID officers tracked down the journalist's 
uncle (a senior civil servant) on Sunday, March 5.  He was 
told First Lady Lucy knew the nephew had "a dossier" on her 
-- and she wanted it.  To underscore their seriousness, the 
police put the First Lady on the phone; she told the uncle 
that unless the Standard turned over the dossier they would 
"burn down the whole of the Standard Group."  Fourth, 
Standard editor Oketch Kendo was intercepted March 8 at a 
city supermarket and told that the journalist had one week 
(until Wednesday, March 15) to turn over the dossier.  Fifth, 
the journalist uncle spoke to the First Lady again March 9; 
she reiterated the same deadline. 
 
9. (S) The journalist claims he does not to know what to do 
-- as he says he has no such dossier. (He believes that 
Alfred Getonga -- recently sacked as Personal Assistant to 
the President  -- left State House angry, and with a sheaf of 
incriminating documents.  He all but stated that Getonga had 
offered him documents, but that they were unable to agree on 
a date to meet before the raid occurred on the Standard.) 
He says he fears for his life. Standard management was to 
meet March 10 to decide whether to send the journalist abroad 
"until things cool down."  He nonetheless continues to work 
on his next story: trying to confirm that another ship 
bearing a load of cocaine is to dock in coming days at 
Mombasa.  (COMMENT: Neither we nor the journalist can confirm 
Wambui's involvement in narcotics; it's just as likely that 
others are throwing her name about to protect their own 
activities.  END COMMENT.) 
 
OPPOSITION GIVEN THE CHOICE: SHUT UP OR ELSE 
============================================ 
 
NAIROBI 00001114  003 OF 003 
 
 
10. (S) Threats of arrest and violence are also being 
personally directed at opposition leaders by the government. 
Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) opposition leaders privately 
confirm that they have been told by State House and police 
officials to stop rabble-rousing on the issues of high-level 
government corruption and cocaine trafficking.  Furthermore, 
"We are all being blackmailed" to keep quiet, conceded one 
presidential aspirant -- who then ticked off the bases for 
government threats of criminal actions against each of the 
major opposition figures, including himself.  The threats, he 
said, have been face-to-face and blunt: they could be 
arrested either with or without charges.  Coming straight 
from a meeting of ODM leaders, he claimed their general 
response has been "We obviously can't stop you. So go ahead." 
 PolCouns urged that he and fellow opposition leaders remain 
civil and pacific, and to give no one a public excuse for 
further repression.  He agreed while readily admitting, "you 
know how hard it is for us politicians to keep our mouths 
shut."  He thanked the USG for its rapid and direct 
denunciation of the raids, saying it not only forced many 
observers off the fence but made clear the stakes at risk. 
 
COMMENT 
======= 
11. (S) COMMENT: While Kenya appears outwardly calm, many of 
those closest to the political action are now scared. The 
raids on the media stunned many Kenyans, who say they never 
expected such a step by their post-Moi, democratic 
government.  Reports of foreign mercenaries, systematic 
threats and blackmail, and possible narco-corruption at State 
House now have them positively reeling.  They now fear what 
may come next. 
BELLAMY