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Viewing cable 09NAIROBI656, PROPELLING THE REFORM PROCESS IN KENYA: MEETINGS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09NAIROBI656 2009-04-02 13:01 2011-03-02 22:10 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Nairobi
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNR #0656/01 0921355
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 021355Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9054
INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0503
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM 6458
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3232
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 3165
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 3025
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 5448
C O N F I D E N T I A L NAIROBI 000656 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR AF/E 
LONDON, PARIS, ROME FOR AFRICA WATCHERS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/02/2039 
TAGS: KDEM KE PGOV PHUM PREL
SUBJECT: PROPELLING THE REFORM PROCESS IN KENYA: MEETINGS 
WITH KEY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Michael E. Ranneberger for 
reasons 1.4 (b) an d (d) 
 
FROM THE AMBASSADOR 
 
1. (C) Summary.  On March 23 I met separately with the 
National Intelligence Chief, the Foreign Minister, and the 
President,s permanent secretary to press on implementation 
of the reform agenda.  I called attention to growing concerns 
at senior levels in Washington regarding insufficient 
progress.  I emphasized our support for Kofi Annan's 
continued engagement and made clear that, while we recognize 
that the culture of impunity will not be reversed overnight, 
we expect to see results on key reform issues.  These three 
interlocutors will undoubtedly brief President Kibaki.  I am 
also meeting with key officials close to PM Odinga to convey 
the same message.  These meetings are part of our continuing 
efforts to propel the reform agenda, which also include 
vigorous public diplomacy and outreach to civil society, the 
private sector, religious groups, and the media, among other 
steps. End summary. 
 
2. (C) On March 23 I met separately with three key senior 
officials to make clear U.S. concern regarding insufficient 
action to advance implementation of the reform agenda to 
which the coalition government committed itself.  The three, 
the head of the National Intelligence Service Michael 
Gichangi, Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula, and Presidential 
Permanent Secretary and head of the civil service Francis 
Muthaura, are to one degree or another close to President 
Kibaki and will undoubtedly brief him on my message.  (I am 
reaching out separately to officials linked to Prime Minister 
Odinga, and I will follow up by seeing the President and PM 
directly.) 
 
3. (C) My message was essentially the same for all three.  I 
emphasized, among other points, growing concerns at senior 
levels in Washington regarding the slowing of implementation 
of the reform agenda.  I told them that we strongly support 
Kofi Annan,s continued involvement. I recognized that 
significant progress was made during the first eight months 
of the coalition government, but noted that progress has 
slowed now that the government is up against the hard issues 
related to tackling the culture of impunity:  holding 
accountable perpetrators of post-election violence and taking 
actions against corruption.  I highlighted particularly the 
need to move forward on the following key issues: 
constitutional revision, the setting up of the independent 
electoral commission, the establishment of the local Special 
Tribunal on post-election violence, specific actions against 
corruption, and movement on police and judicial reforms.  The 
U.S, I made clear, shares the expectations of the Kenyan 
people that the coalition government must follow through on 
its commitment to the reform agenda. I noted that I have 
written to both President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga on 
the reform process issues.  I emphasized to them the need to 
reach out to civil society, the private sector, religious 
groups, and the media to work in an inclusive way to advance 
reforms. I pointed out that the partnership between the U.S. 
and Kenya is based to a substantial degree on shared 
democratic values.  The coalition government should not take 
this partnership for granted. The U.S. and others who 
supported the coalition agreement were not supporting the 
status quo, but rather a commitment to launch a process of 
fundamental change to address the underlying causes of the 
crisis and to help Kenya build stronger, more inclusive, and 
more transparent democratic institutions. We understand that 
the culture of impunity will not be reversed overnight, but 
the reform agenda will begin the process of fundamental 
change.  I noted increased concerns about extra-judicial 
killings and increased threats to human rights activists.  In 
that regard, I expressed concern that the government has not 
accepted our offer to have the FBI help in investigating the 
murders of the two human rights activists. (PM Odinga 
accepted the offer, but the police have refused to sit down 
with the FBI, and the Foreign Minister subsequently wrote us 
declining the offer.)  I pointed out that the AGOA forum 
planned for August is a big opportunity, but noted that it 
will not be fully successfully for Kenya unless progress has 
been made on political and economic reforms before then. 
I also made clear to all three that the U.S. ) despite the 
way that some seek to distort the picture ) is neither 
pro-Odinga nor pro-Kibaki.  We are pro-coalition government. 
 
In order for the coalition government to work, the Prime 
Minister needs to be able to do his job effectively, and 
there needs to be good cooperation between Kibaki and Odinga. 
 
4. (C) Gichangi (who briefs the President regularly) 
acknowledged that the reform process has not moved as quickly 
as Kenyans expected.   However, he said, politics &is about 
realpolitik and the art of the doable.8  Much time has been 
wasted in sorting out politics within the coalition 
government, he admitted.  Politicians are prematurely focused 
on the 2012 elections.  All of this has generated a lot of 
&negativity8 among the Kenyan people, who perhaps had 
unrealistic expectations about what the coalition government 
would achieve.  Meanwhile, the global economic crisis has had 
a major impact on Kenya, and this has fueled unhappiness and 
unrest, particularly among the youth (two-thirds of the 
population).  Kenya also suffers, Gichangi said, from "the 
Moi hangover of high-handed leadership."  Gichangi 
recognized the need for the coalition government to do more 
on the reform process but, though I pressed, he avoided 
specifics. (We know that Gichangi is a bitter rival of Police 
Commissioner Ali, and would like to see Ali removed, which 
would, we believe, pave the way for police reform.) 
 
5. (C) The Foreign Minister,s points were similar to those 
made by Gichangi.  He acknowledged that the coalition 
government is at a moment of truth and must &get its act 
together.8  He said that Kibaki and Odinga planned to bring 
ministers together in April for a retreat focused mainly on 
the issue of how to proceed with respect to the reform 
agenda.  Our lengthy discussion produced nothing new. 
 
6. (C) Among knowledgeable Kenyan observers, Muthaura is 
considered to be virtually a &shadow president,8 so much 
power does he wield.  Muthaura argued that the reform agenda 
is in fact moving forward and was defensive on the specific 
issue of corruption.  He maintained that the coalition system 
of each ministry having a minister from one party of the 
coalition and an assistant minister from the other party in 
effect introduced a &checks and balances8 system that 
contributes to greater transparency and accountability. He 
noted that the budgeting process is done by professional 
civil servants and not open to a lot of manipulation 
(conveniently overlooking the fact that much corruption is 
alleged to take place in the ample "off budget" budget). He 
alluded to a couple of additional anti-corruption steps the 
government may take, such as out-sourcing audits of state 
corporations.  He stressed that President Kibaki is fully 
committed to "fast tracking" implementation of the reform 
agenda, in concert with PM Odinga. (While the fast-tracking 
part is not credible, Odinga has repeatedly told me that he 
has a good working relationship with Kibaki.) 
 
7. (C) During the course of a long and candid discussion, 
I challenged Muthaura on most of these points with the 
bottom-line being that ) if things are going on in the 
reform process as Muthaura alleges ) then this needs to be 
explained to the Kenyan people.  That was a point that 
Muthaura took, admitting that the coalition government has 
done a terrible job of presenting its accomplishments, and 
the challenges it faces, to the Kenyan people.  (Interesting 
) and probably coincidentally -- Kibaki subsequently began a 
systematic tour of the entire country intended to lay out 
what the coalition government is doing, including how it is 
addressing the impact of the global economic crisis.) 
Muthaura also agreed with me that both the President and 
Prime Minister "need to send the right signals."  In that 
regard, he said that President Kibaki will set a clear agenda 
to move ahead on reform when he addresses Parliament when it 
reconvenes the latter part of April.  I told Muthaura that 
one "right signal" would be reaching out to civil society 
to hear and take into account their concerns about the need 
to strengthen the proposed legislation to establish the 
Special Tribunal in order to make it more independent and 
credible.  Having civil society on board would increase 
pressure on Parliamentarians to support the legislation. 
Muthaura agreed on the utility of doing this. 
 
8. (C) Muthaura said that he would brief the President 
regarding U.S. concerns that the reform process is not moving 
quickly enough.  Kibaki will hear the same message through 
Gichangi and Wetangula as well. 
 
9. (C) These meetings are part of our continuing efforts to 
propel the reform agenda, which  also include vigorous public 
diplomacy and outreach to civil society, the private sector, 
religious groups, and the media, among other steps. 
RANNEBERGER