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Cablegate: Kenya Elections: Party Primaries Trigger Some Violence

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNR #4234/01 2991209
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261209Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3142
INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 9630
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM 5537
RUEHLGB/AMEMBASSY KIGALI 4957
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 1603
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI 4895
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 2438
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 2365

UNCLAS NAIROBI 004234

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/E

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUMPREL KE
SUBJECT: KENYA ELECTIONS: PARTY PRIMARIES TRIGGER SOME VIOLENCE

REF: NAIROBI 3761 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) Summary: In the run-up to Kenya's national elections, some
violence is occurring. Clashes have happened in areas which so
strongly favor one party that the person who secures the party
nomination is essentially assured of winning the Parliamentary seat.
This type of intra-party violence could increase in the coming
weeks. For example, in Odinga country, some Nyanza Province youth
have already armed themselves in expectation of clashes during the
mid-November party nomination process. If primary voters in Nyanza,
or elsewhere, perceive that the upcoming party nomination processes
are not free and fair, more
bloodshed is a virtual guarantee, we heard. The Mission, as part of
our larger effort to contain electoral violence, has been actively
monitoring primary season hotspots over the last several months and
will send 16 observer teams to such areas during the actual
nomination days next month. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) As Kenyan party primaries near, clashes have been occurring
in areas which so strongly favor one party that the person who
secures the party nomination is essentially assured of winning the
Parliamentary seat. All indications are that this type of
intra-party violence will increase in the coming weeks. Now that
President Kibaki has dissolved Parliament, sitting MPs have returned
to their constituencies to fight for their political lives (reftel).
Nationally, Kenyan voters typically return only about 50 percent of

incumbents to office, but this year it is virtually unanimous among
political observers that there may be an even higher turn-over rate
(up to 70 percent) because the mood for change among voters is so
pronounced this year. So, quite literally, the fight is on.

A MICROCOSM: TENSIONS IN ODM HEARTLAND

3. (SBU) Responding to the rumors of campaign season violence,
PolOff visited the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM)
stronghold of Nyanza Province on October 17 and 18. Nyanza is home
to the Luo People, who are expected to overwhelmingly vote ODM and
Raila Odinga in
numbers predicted to exceed 85 percent. While other parties are
fielding candidates, none have a realistic chance of prevailing over
whoever wins the ODM nomination. During a meeting in the provincial
capital, Kisumu, District Commissioner Jamleck Baruga told us that
eight candidates are vying for the ODM nomination in the Kisumu MP
race. Some supporters of these candidates are currently recovering
in the hospital from stab wounds. The violence to date largely
appears to be of the impromptu variety. Organized violence could be
expected
closer to primary election day, especially if Raila Odinga starts
hand-picking who will win ODM nominations in Nyanza. Similarly, the
days when one of Kenya's old ethnic barons could
safely deliver their block of votes are ending, we heard.
Accordingly, nominating-by-fiat will inflame local passions.

4. (SBU) We also met with the Alego Usonga District MP candidate
Raymond Muhula. Muhula is charismatic, 36 years old, and
U.S.-educated. The youngest aspirant in the race, Muhula has
branded himself as the "youth candidate." He repeated Commissioner
Baruga's warning that any attempt by Odinga to handpick a candidate
would be "completely rejected." He accused two more seasoned
contestants, Edwin Yinda and Oloo Aringo (current chairperson of
Kenya's Parliamentary Service Commission) of employing thugs. In
response, youths in the district
have armed themselves and are preparing for a fight. This was a
warning we heard repeated by nervous local citizens on street
corners and in marketplaces throughout Nyanza.

COMMENT

5. (SBU) The first flashes of party primary violence in Nyanza are a
microcosm of what is occurring nationally within an electorate that
appears tired of being told what to do by their tribal leaders. If
primary voters in Nyanza, or elsewhere, perceive that the upcoming
party nomination processes are not free and fair, more blood shed is
a virtual guarantee. The Mission, consequently, has been actively
monitoring primary season hotspots over
the last several months and, once we receive requested party
permission, we will send 16 observer teams to such areas during the
actual nomination days next month. These efforts to lessen or
prevent electoral violence are in addition to the USG funding of
district-level Peace Committees and Kenyan Domestic Observers
(through the UNDP), our sponsorship of the anti-violence "Umoja
Pamoja" youth music campaign, and repeated public response and
high-level GOK engagement by the Ambassador and other Mission
personnel whenever campaign-related
violence has struck. End comment.

Ranneberger

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