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Viewing cable 09NAIROBI1080, A/S CARSON AND NSC SENIOR DIRECTOR GAVIN'S MEETING WITH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09NAIROBI1080 2009-06-02 15:03 2011-03-08 22:10 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Nairobi
VZCZCXRO8511
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHNR #1080/01 1531520
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 021520Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9677
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 NAIROBI 001080 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR A/S CARSON, NSC FOR SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR 
AFRICA GAVIN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/02/2039 
TAGS: PREL KDEM PHUM PINR PGOV KE
 
SUBJECT: A/S CARSON AND NSC SENIOR DIRECTOR GAVIN'S MEETING WITH 
PRESIDENT KIBAKI 
 
REF: A. NAIROBI 807 
     B. NAIROBI 712 
     C. NAIROBI 458 
     D. NAIROBI 413 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Michael E. Ranneberger for reasons 1.4 (B 
and 
 D) 
 
SUMMARY 
 ------- 
 
1.  (C) Assistant Secretary for African Affairs (A/S) Johnnie 
Carson and National Security Council (NSC) Senior Director for 
Africa Michelle Gavin met with President Mwai Kibaki and 
several high-ranking GOK officials on May 12.  A/S Carson 
told Kibaki that his visit was meant to underscore the 
enormous friendship and long-standing partnership between the 
United States and Kenya.  However, Carson stated that his 
visit was also meant to emphasize concern in Washington that 
the coalition government is pulling apart rather than coming 
together and that this threatens implementation of the reform 
agenda and renewed instability.   Carson told Kibaki that the 
U.S. - Kenya partnership will strengthen politically and 
economically if Kenya moves forward as a strong democracy and 
offered U.S. assistance to keep things on track.  NSC 
Senior Director for Africa Gavin commented that President Obama is 
"deeply concerned" with the lack of progress on reform. 
Gavin also conveyed a message from the President that there 
will be no "business as usual" with actors who obstruct the 
reform agenda or who advocate a return to violence, but added 
that the U.S. wants to help Kenya move forward. 
 
2.  (C) President Kibaki expressed his gratitude for U.S. 
involvement during the crisis, but denied that Kenya was not 
making progress.  Kibaki stated that the coalition government 
is moving forward together.  He allowed the other attendees 
to discuss progress in implementing the reform agenda, mostly 
formation of commissions which GOK interlocutors termed as 
executive in nature.  A/S Carson replied that process is no 
substitute for progress, and that progress is not a 
substitute for postive, full implementation of the reform 
agenda.  A/S Carson also highlighted Washington's growing 
concern about the human rights situation and police impunity. 
 The recent assasination of two human rights activists and 
the subsequent lack of progress investigating the case, had, 
"cast an enormous shadow over police and the judicial process 
as a whole," according to Carson. Failure to hold people 
accountable contributes to the perception that Kenya is not 
moving in the right direction and this is the reality that 
the GOK must deal with, he warned.  A/S Carson stressed the 
importance that the coalition partners continue to seek 
dialogue and reconciliation, and to find accommodation to 
reduce tensions.  He concluded by reiterating the importance 
of Kenya and the United States' continuing commitment to 
helping Kenya move forward.  End Summary. 
 
A Strong U.S. - Kenya Partnership 
--------------------------------- 
 
3.  (C) Assistant Secretary for African Affairs (A/S) Johnnie 
Carson and National Security Council (NSC) Senior Director for 
Africa Michelle Gavin met with President Mwai Kibaki on May 
12.  The meeting was also attended by several high-ranking 
GOK officials, including Minister of Internal Security and 
Provincial Administration George Saitoti,  Minister of 
Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs 
(Minister of Justice) Mutula Kilonzo Attorney General Amos 
Wako, and the Head of the Civil Service Francis Muthaura. 
A/S Carson noted the fact he made Kenya his first substantive 
trip since being confirmed as A/S underscores the importance 
we attach to the relationship.  A/S Carson noted that Kenya 
is the United States' strongest partner in East Africa and on 
the Horn of Africa.  He added that the U.S. Embassy in 
Nairobi is the largest in sub-Saharan Africa and represents a 
fundamental belief in the strength of our relationship. 
 
... But Renewed Concern 
----------------------- 
 
4.  (C) However, A/S Carson explained that a second reason 
for his trip to Kenya is to express renewed and deep concern 
that the grand coalition government not fully implementing 
the reform agenda.  Public frustration is building and could 
lead to increased instability if the reforms are not 
implemented.  The Assistant Secretary stated that the U.S. - 
Kenya partnership will be much stronger on the political and 
economic fronts if Kenya continues to move forward as a 
 
NAIROBI 00001080  002 OF 003 
 
 
strong democracy.  A/S Carson offered U.S. help to keep 
things on track, but stated the U.S. will also speak out to 
urge action. 
 
President Obama Deeply Concerned 
-------------------------------- 
 
5.  (C)  National Security Council Senior Director for Africa 
Michelle Gavin stated that she had spoken with President 
Barack Obama about Kenya before departing Washington.  Gavin 
stated that the President wanted her to come to Kenya with 
the A/S to make clear the concerns of the White House.  She 
told Kibaki that President Obama is "deeply concerned" with 
events in Kenya and  relayed the President's view that 
political gridlock threatens stability and implementation of 
the reform agenda, which she termed most important for 
Kenya's long-term future.  She noted that, because Kenya is 
such an important nation, the U.S. wants to help Kenya move 
forward in a way that will give Kenyans more opportunities. 
Gavin told Kibaki that President Obama asked her to convey 
the message that there will be no "business as usual" with 
actors who obstruct the reform agenda or who advocate a 
return to violence. 
 
Kibaki: We Are On Track 
----------------------- 
 
6.  (C)  In brief remarks, President Kibaki said, "I see a 
different picture; the picture I have is we (the coalition 
partners) are getting close together." He denied that Kenya 
was returning to crisis and he did not see why people think 
the grand coalition government is pulling apart.  The grand 
coalition government is moving forward together to solve 
Kenya's problems.  He supposed that the concern may be caused 
by the large amount of political noise surrounding certain 
issues.  With that, Kibaki asked the other attendees to brief 
A/S Carson on the achievements of the coalition government, 
which included the recent formation of a police reform 
commission (Septel), the appointment of an interim electoral 
commission (Reftel A), the upcoming appointment of an interim 
boundary commissions to re-set electoral boundaries, and 
resolving financial constraints on the work of the recently 
appointed Constitutional Panel of Experts (Reftel B), and 
that Cabinet is preparing to consider a report on land 
reform.  Looking forward, Minister of Justice Mutula Kilonzo 
said that judicial reform was high on his agenda and that he 
will work with Prime Minister Raila Odinga's Orange 
Democratic Movement (ODM) to agree on the necessary steps. 
Kilonzo agreed that progress on the reform agenda has been 
slower than anticipated, but argued that progress is being 
made.  He argued that any perceived delay in pursuing the 
reform agenda is due to debate and disagreements that are 
inherent in Kenya's democratic system.  All interlocutors 
noted that these processes are expensive and that the GOK is 
facing severe financial constraints.  All asked A/S Carson to 
consider providing financial support to these processes. 
 
Process Is No Substitute for Progress 
------------------------------------- 
 
7. (C) A/S Carson expressed his appreciation for the work 
that has been done thus far, but stressed that "process, 
while important, is no substitute for progress."  He 
elaborated that progress itself is not a substitute for full, 
positive implementation of the reform agenda.  He warned that 
the Kenyan public is becoming increasingly impatient with the 
perception that the GOK is going slow on implementation.  A/S 
Carson also told the attendees that he is well aware of 
Kenya's history of responding to complex crises with 
commissions, but that Kenya has rarely acted on their 
recommendations.  He told Kibaki that the GOK needs to act on 
the recommendations of the recently-formed commissions or 
else the public will lose faith in the government.  On the 
issue of financial support, A/S Carson noted that the U.S. 
has been a strong and reliable donor to Kenya and is prepared 
to help as much as it can.  He made clear that the U.S. will 
help, but only as part of progress towards full 
implementation of the reform agenda.  A/S Carson warned that 
the U.S. does not wish to assist processes that go on and on 
without achieving results.  Carson also stress the need for 
full and equal power-sharing within the coalition. 
 
A Warning on Human Rights 
------------------------- 
 
8. (C)  A/S Carson also delivered a strong message on human 
rights, police impunity, and the need for accountability. 
Carson told Kibaki that the "assasination" of two prominent 
 
NAIROBI 00001080  003 OF 003 
 
 
human rights activists (Reftel C) had shaken Washington.  The 
subsequent lack of investigation or arrests has cast an 
enormous shadow over the police and the justice system as a 
whole.   This is the reality that the government must deal 
with, A/S Carson told Kibaki.  He added that President Kibaki 
had the power to act to improve this perception.  In a barely 
disguised plea for Kibaki to remove Police Commissioner 
Hussein Ali, who has been linked with extrajudicial killings 
by the U.N. Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial Killings 
(Reftel D), Carson stated that the President has the power to 
remove an official who is either derelict in his duty or 
found wanting.  It is the failure of Kenyan government to 
remove officials who are unable to execute their jobs that 
contributes to the perception that things are not moving 
forward, Carson added. 
 
Kenya's Importance 
------------------ 
 
9.  (C) A/S Carson reaffirmed Kenya's importance to the U.S., 
stating that no country between Cairo and Capetown is more 
important than Kenya.  The deep friendship and deep 
partnership requires the U.S. to air its concerns that the 
reform agenda is not moving forward, he added.  Responding to 
an argument made by the Head of the Civil Service Francis 
Muthaura that political gridlock is a result of Kibaki's 
party not agreeing with ODM's position on appointments and 
the nature of power-sharing, the Assistant Secretary stated 
that, in a tense environment such as Kenya, it is important 
that the coalition partners continually seek dialogue and 
reconciliation, and pursue accommodation to reduce tensions. 
Carson added that Kenya's post-election violence had impacted 
most of East Africa and that Washington would speak out if 
there is a possibility of renewed violence. 
 
10.  (C)  In response, President Kibaki stated that "if these 
guys (the Ministers present) say they will undertake reforms, 
they will do it and will do things with an eye towards 
implementation, not just process."  "We are going to act," 
Kibaki stated.  He then appealed to A/S Carson for financial 
assistance to, "do the things that must be done."  Kibaki 
re-emphasized his view that the Coalition government is 
functioning well and thanked A/S Carson for his visit. 
 
11. (U) This cable has been cleared by A/S Carson and NSC Senior 
Director for Africa Gavin. 
 
RANNEBERGER