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Viewing cable 09NAIROBI1084, A/S CARSON AND NSC SENIOR DIRECTOR GAVIN'S MEETING WITH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09NAIROBI1084 2009-06-03 04:04 2011-02-27 23:11 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Nairobi
Appears in these articles:
http://www.the-star.co.ke/
VZCZCXRO8976
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHNR #1084/01 1540458
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 030458Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9685
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM 6561
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI 0154
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
RUZEFAA/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUZEFAA/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NAIROBI 001084 
 
SIPDIS 
 
AF/E FOR SUSAN DRIANO 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/11/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM KE
 
SUBJECT: A/S CARSON AND NSC SENIOR DIRECTOR GAVIN'S MEETING WITH 
DEPUTY PM/FINANCE MINISTER KENYATTA 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Michael E. Ranneberger for reasons 1.4 (B 
and D) 
 
1.  (C) Summary:  In a May 12 meeting with Deputy Prime 
Minister/Minister of Finance Uhuru Kenyatta, Assistant Secretary for 
African Affairs (A/S) Johnnie Carson and National Security Council 
(NSC) Senior Director for Africa Michelle Gavin expressed deep 
concern over political tensions in Kenya.  Gavin delivered a tough 
message from President Obama: the U.S. would not do business with 
Kenyans who obstructed reform or encouraged political violence. 
Kenyatta sought to deflect concerns, arguing that the government's 
focus should be on economic rather than political reform, given 
Kenya's multitude of idle youth. He blamed an irresponsible media and 
a slow moving Parliament for the lack of overall progress on the 
reform agenda.  A/S Carson and Gavin objected to Kenyatta's assertion 
that the media and Parliament were to blame and exhorted Kenyatta to 
work expeditiously towards significant progress on the reform agenda 
prior to the August 4-6, 2009 AGOA Forum in Nairobi.  Kenyatta was 
diplomatic enough to pay lip service to the reform agenda but could 
not provide any tangible evidence of a commitment to change.  End 
Summary. 
2.  (C) Meeting with Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of Finance Uhuru 
Kenyatta on May 12, A/S Carson and NSC Senior Director for Africa 
Gavin expressed the deep concern of the new U.S. Administration over 
political tensions in Kenya.  While noting Kenya's critical role in 
Africa and its positive history of partnership with the United 
States, A/S Carson said there was growing concern that the political 
tensions that led to the eruption of violence in 2008 were building 
up again as a result of the slow pace of reform.  He added that the 
tensions within the coalition appeared greater and stronger than the 
glue holding the coalition together.  A/S Carson also emphasized USG 
concerns about the recent extra-judicial killings of human rights 
activists from the Oscar Foundation.  A/S Carson said the killings 
had the hallmarks of a police hit and "shook a lot of human rights 
advocates."  Particularly worrying, A/S Carson said, was the lack of 
prosecution or even the serious gathering of evidence.  A/S Carson 
reminded Kenyatta of the linkage between political and economic 
reform, noting that one cannot attract investment without political 
certainty and stability.  He said that failure to move rapidly on the 
political side will undermine what Kenya wants to do on the economic 
side.  No one wanted to see Kenya fall or go backwards and we wanted to help where we could.  Pointing to the upcoming August 4-6 AGOA 
Forum, A/S Carson made clear that he wanted Secretary Clinton to come to the Forum with a positive message, but that without significant 
reform she would be coming with a harder message for the GOK. 
3.  (C) Gavin made clear President Obama's deep concern over Kenya's 
political gridlock.  She indicated that the U.S. wanted to help but 
that the new Administration is not interested in business as usual 
with political elites obstructing reform or contributing to political 
violence.  The President is worried, she added, that Kenya is headed 
in the wrong direction.  Gavin emphasized the importance of 
addressing disenfranchised youth and noted that their plight spoke to 
the need for economic growth and implementation of the reform agenda. 
 
4.  (C) Kenyatta said Kenya's current political stalemate (over 
whether the Vice President or Prime Minister leads government 
business) could be managed and that it was simply part of the 
transition from one system of government to another.  In Kenyatta's 
view, the power to lead government clearly rested with the Vice 
President; he said he could not understand the Prime Minister's 
position in seeking to take over that power.  Moving to the reform 
agenda, Kenyatta asserted that the focus, due primarily to problems 
of youth unemployment and the serious criminal gang threat in Kenya, 
had to be economic -- rather than political -- reform.  According to 
Kenyatta, while the government had made progress on constitutional 
and electoral reform, focusing exclusively on the political front 
would be a mistake.  A/S Carson and Gavin demurred; it was important, 
they said, to move on both tracks expeditiously as economic and 
political progress were inextricably linked.  Kenyatta blamed an 
"independent Parliament" and "irresponsible media" for impeding 
progress on the reform agenda. 
5.  (C) On the subject of extra-judicial killings, Kenyatta condemned 
the actions but said there must be a greater understanding of the 
context in which they are taking place.  He lamented the powerful 
draw of Kenya's pernicious criminal gangs, including Mungiki, on 
Kenya's growing multitude of idle youth.  Zigzagging, he conceded 
that the police are likely involved with the criminal gangs, and 
claimed that the Oscar Foundation had links with Mungiki.  In 
closing, Kenyatta sought additional USG assistance for Kenya.  He 
complained that the U.S. decision to deny Kenya access to MCC funds 
was based on misperceptions -- rather than the reality -- of 
corruption in Kenya.  If Kenya was so bad, Kenyatta asserted, it 
would not be receiving support from multilateral institutions such as 
 
NAIROBI 00001084  002 OF 002 
 
 
the World Bank.  Kenyatta said he wants a partnership with the U.S. 
rather than hammers and conditions, which he said moved regularly. 
6.  (C) Comment:  In the face of repeated expressions of concern by 
A/S Carson and Gavin about Kenya's lack of reform and potential 
collision with renewed violence, Kenyatta appeared both defensive 
about the government's muddling and non-committal toward changing the 
status quo.  Kenyatta was diplomatic enough to pay lip service to the 
reform agenda, but could not provide any tangible evidence of a 
commitment to change.  End comment. 
 
7. (U) This cable has been cleared by A/S Carson and NSC Senior 
Director for Africa Gavin. 
 
RANNEBERGER