Cablegate: Kenya Elections: Electoral Violence - Eck And


DE RUEHNR #4828/01 3551342
R 211342Z DEC 07





E.O. 12958: N/A



1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The run up to the December 27 election is
proving to be more violent than the last such contest in
2002, but still much less violent than Kenya's first two
multiparty elections in 1992 and 1997. The majority of
campaign activity falls within the bounds of the Electoral
Code of Conduct. That said, apparent violations of the Code
have been frequent; violence against women political
aspirants, clashes between supporters of different parties or
factions, campaign speeches and materials that qualify as
prohibited hate speech. The ECK has been busy marshalling
its limited resources to prepare the logistics of conducting
the elections. It has not yet exercised its authority to
sanction parties or candidates for violations of the Code of
Conduct nor is it likely to do so. The Kenyan Police Service
has acted professionally and been non-partisan in its
reaction to campaign violence. One weak spot in police
response has been a lack of protection for women political
aspirants from violence. Although the Police Commissioner
has offered increased protection to women candidates to
combat violence and intimidation, implementation has been
lacking, leading UNIFEM to criticize police response to
violence against women aspirants. Police have made several
arrests related to distribution of hate literature and
attempts to transport weapons, again acting in a non-partisan
manner. In an effort to stem hate speech, police have
established media monitoring centers, but it is unclear what
effect this initiative will have. Post is particularly
concerned about the politically-motivated violence affecting
Kuresoi and Molo constituencies in the central Rift Valley,
where conflict between Kalenjin, Kikuyu, and Kisii
communities in Kuresoi and Molo constituencies has displaced
hundreds of families. If not resolved, the violence could
threaten the ability to conduct free and fair elections in
these constituencies. END SUMMARY

-------------------------------- ---------------------------

2.(U) The Electoral Code of Conduct (the Code) requires
registered parties and candidates to sign an oath pledging,
among others, to condemn, avoid, and take steps to avoid
violence and intimidation, to affirm the right of all to
express divergent political opinions, to canvas freely for
membership and voters, to hold public meetings, to publish
and distribute non-offensive campaign literature, banners,
and other advertisements. Candidates and parties must ensure
that no arms or weapons are carried or displayed at political
meetings or marches, to refrain from vote-buying, and abuse
of position in power, to avoid discrimination based on age,
race, tribe, political opinion color, or gender. Political
parties are obliged to take reasonable steps to discipline
and restrain all party officials, supporters, and candidates
who infringe the Code of Conduct.

3. (U) The ECK has the authority to enforce the Electoral
Code of Conduct. It is empowered to issue warnings and fines.
It may also bar parties from using allocated time on
state-run media, or distribute campaign materials, placards,
and other advertisements. If the ECK deems a violation of the
Code of Conduct sufficiently severe, it may petition the High
Court to ban an offending party or candidate from
participating in the election.

------------------------------------- --------------

4. (SBU) As previously reported, violence and intimidation
against women political aspirants occurred frequently in the
run-up to the political party nominations (reftels). In
November, UNIFEM created a Gender Rapid Response Unit (GRRU)
to provide resources to women political aspirants
experiencing violence or intimidation. GRRU has tracked over
250 incidents of violence or intimidation aimed at women
political aspirants. As the campaign moves into the general

election, women continue to be threatened and subjected to
violent attack. An ODM woman political aspirant who lost at
the nomination phase in Western province was shot and killed
by gunmen while in Nairobi on December 1. Civil society
organizations were quick to attribute a political motive to
the attack, but police investigations are ongoing and have
not established a motive for the crime. Alice Muthoni
Wahome, a PNU woman parliamentary aspirant for Kandara
constituency, Central Province, seemingly won the PNU
nomination. She went to collect her nomination certificate
at the PNU secretariat, but was attacked by supporters of a
rival candidate, sustaining injuries to her head and legs.
Although she was issued a valid PNU nomination certificate,
she had to be treated in a hospital for her injuries,
allowing her opponent (who had also been issued a facially
valid PNU nomination certificate) to present his certificate
to the ECK first and was recognized as the legitimate PNU
candidate. Because of the confusion surrounding the political
party nominations (reftel B), ECK Chair Kivuitu announced
that the ECK would not adjudicate intra-party disputes over
whose nomination certificates were valid, but would recognize
party candidates presenting facially valid certificate on a
'first come, first served', basis, which encouraged
machinations of all sorts and encouraged rival candidates to
resort to violence of the sort Ms. Wahome experienced. Ms.
Wahome continues her campaign as the candidate of Safina, a
PNU-affiliate party.

5. (U) Women political aspirants are also frequently
threatened, harassed, and intimidated by telephone or SMS
messages. At a recent roundtable of women parliamentary
candidates hosted by the Ambassador, tales of harassment and
threats were depressingly commonplace.

6. (SBU). Civil society organizations have also appealed to
both police and political parties to act to curb violence
aimed at women political aspirants. Political party leaders
have made statements calling on contestants to abide by the
Code of Conduct, but no political party has sanctioned
candidates for intimidation or violence aimed at women.

7. (SBU) Frustrated with uneven police response, a UNIFEM
program officer recently accused the police of failing to
respond to reports of women when they are attacked.


8. (SBU) Both major parties and their supporters have engaged
in speech that occasionally crosses the line into hate
speech. This has taken the form of speeches at campaign
rallies and, more often, pamphlets distributed by groups not
directly traceable to political parties. Besides the
traditional methods, both ODM and PNU supporters have been
using more modern media, such as on-line chat rooms and SMS
text messages.

9. (SBU) The majority of arguable hate speech has been aimed
at ODM presidential candidate Raila Odinga. It has been
financed by Kibaki supporters, but is not directly
attributable to PNU. For example, in mid-November, a
pamphlet was circulated in some Nairobi slums and Embu
Province which inferred Raila was a devil worshipper.
Playing on the ODM,s highest body of electoral advisors,
known as the Pentagon, the pamphlet conflated pentagon with
pentagram. One side stated, 'Did you know the Pentagon (sic)
is a sign of Devil Worship?', and showed a pentagram. The
other side contained a pentagram superimposed over a picture
of Raila, posing the question 'What does this Man Worship?',
with text below the picture stating, 'Kalonzo (Musyoka) is a
Baptist. Kibaki is a Catholic. Raila is What?'. To counter
these attacks, Raila has financed a series of ads reinforcing
his Anglicanism and his respect for all religious
persuasions. President Kibaki has taken the high ground and
condemned the use of hate speech. Apparently, these
statements have fallen on deaf ears among his supporters.

10. (SBU) ODM has not been without fault in the campaign. Its
approach to build a successful coalition is to reach out to
communities that traditionally harbor anti-Kikuyu

resentments, often over land issues. (President Kibaki is a
Kikuyu, as was Kenya's first President. The Kikuyu heartland
is overpopulated. Kikuyu more than any other Kenyan ethnic
community have spread throughout the country. In many areas
they dominate business and the professions.). At times
appeals to anti-Kikuyu sentiments crossed the line into hate
speech. For example, Polcouns attended an ODM rally in
Coastal Province in November where the anti-Kikuyu sentiments
expressed by several figures bordered on hate speech (reftel

11. (U) Supporters of both sides have sent SMS messages
containing highly inflammatory anti-Kikuyu and anti-Luo
sentiments. Some of these have attacked Raila by pointing
out that a 'boy' is unfit to run the country. Odinga's Luo
tribe is one of the few in Kenya that does not circumcise its
men. Those tribes that do circumcise consider the
uncircumcised as not being men. Others play on stereotypes of
Luo as lazy and state that Raila will bring the country to
ruin. Likewise, President Kibaki and PNU have also come
under attack in these fora. PNU has been accused of fomenting
war in Kenya. Other postings demonize the Kikuyu for
monopolizing power and characterize Kikuyu as "hyenas' and an
'evil tribe'.


12. (SBU) There are two glaring examples where police have
not been able to maintain public order in the run-up to the
election: Mount Elgon and Kuresoi/Molo. Conflict in Mount
Elgon has been simmering for years and so can not be strictly
considered election-related violence. However, since late
October, intercommunal violence between Kalenjin (including
among Kalenjin sub-tribes), Kikuyu, and Kisii communities has
plagued Kuresoi and Molo constituencies, in central Rift
Valley Province. After the first round of house burnings and
raids, GSU paramilitary police were brought in and
temporarily calmed the situation, but violence flared in
November after political parties nominations process resulted
in allegations of a fixed ODM nomination. On December 4, the
Provincial Commissioner and a Provincial Security team
visited the region to lead peace committee meetings and
implore local leaders to become more involved in settling the
conflict. That same day two schoolchildren were murdered.
Police estimate that approximately 300 families have been
displaced, however the local Red Cross office estimates that
almost 16,000 people have been displaced during the recent

13. (SBU) Christian and Islamic religious leaders and other
local leaders have called on all the major presidential
candidates to be more involved in finding a solution to the
conflict. As a result, Raila Odinga visited affected areas on
December 6, and presented relief supplies to the local Red
Cross office. For his part, President Kibaki has issued a
non-specific call for tolerance and to show the world Kenyans
are a peaceful nation.

14. (SBU) Land ownership issues underlie the conflict, some
dating back to colonial resettlement schemes. However, the
Provincial Commissioner, during a recent visit to the area,
stated that politicians were behind the current violence.
Similar past instances of violence in 1992 and 1997 had
strong political undertones as then-President Moi armed and
organized pro-KANU Kalenjin raiders to attack pro-opposition
Kikuyu homesteads to displace Kikuyu voters. While the
current violence is politically motivated it is more nuanced
than in the past. As a general proposition, Kalenjin in the
area support ODM. The well-organized raids have predominantly
targeted local Kikuyu and Kisii populations who tend to
support PNU and Ford-People (also pro-Kibaki), respectively.
However, unlike in the past, there is an element of Kalenjin
on Kalenjin violence to the conflict. This is the result of
an intra-ODM struggle where the Tugen and Kipsigis clans are
backing a different ODM factions with violence resulting.
There is also a small section of the Tugen clan that,
following Moi's endorsement of Kibaki, supports PNU. They
have also been subject to attack by Kalenjin raiders.


15. (SBU) All sides have called on the ECK to sanction
opponents for putative violations of the Electoral Code of
Conduct. In most cases, the ECK has taken no action.
However, on December 20th, the ECK issued summonses to five
persons (including an Assistant Minister and four
parliamentary candidates) in connection with incidents of
political violence in two constituencies. The ECK has also
requested the presence of the Police Commissioner to explain
police responses to political violence (see below). The
hearings are set for December 21st, though it is not clear
whether the ECK will punish anyone. The ECK's reluctance up
till now to sanction candidates is understandable. It is
focused on organizing the massive logistical operation
required to conduct the elections. Despite its wide mandate
to sanction campaign misconduct, insufficient resources make
it unable to fulfill a more meaningful role in policing
campaign behavior.


16. (SBU) The Kenyan Police Service have taken pains to
portray themselves as non-partisan guardians of public order.
For the most part they have restricted themselves to
policing campaign activity when it results in public disorder
or threatens to do so.

17. (SBU) Most campaign violence has been sporadic bouts
between hired supporters of rival political candidates and,
even more often, between competing factions of the same party
or coalition. For the most part, the violence ends shortly
after it starts and police have succeeded in restoring public
order. Police action in combating police violence has been
non-partisan. For example, three aides to ODM Pentagon
Member/ex-Minister of Health Charity Ngilu were arrested by
police for organizing attacks on ODM-K, Safina and PNU
candidates in Kitui Central constituency, Eastern Province.
In Naivasha, police confiscated machetes, clubs, and bows and
arrows that were found in a car assigned to the Assistant
Minister for Water. The Assistant Minister was not in the
car, but police arrested the driver and later questioned the
Assistant Minister for over 9 hours in Nairobi regarding his
involvement in the incident. No charges have been filed
against the Assistant Minister (reftel A). Police have
reacted responsibly for the most part, and have frequently
arrested perpetrators of election-related violence.

17. (SBU) Police response to violence against women has been
less effective. As a result of repeated calls by women
political aspirants and civil society groups for increased
protection, Police Commissioner Hussein Ali made a public
statement in mid-November that police would provide extra
security to women aspirants. However, follow up at the local
level has been lacking. Post surveyed a large number of women
aspirants as to whether they had requested or received extra
security from local police officials. In three cases, extra
protection was provided - mostly for one-off campaign
appearances. The Center for Multi-Party Democracy, a civil
society organization, also organized women candidates to
approach local police to request increased security. CMD
reported that police did not respond positively to most

18. (SBU) In most cases where women political aspirants
requested enhanced security, local police offered to provide
extra protection only if the candidate paid for the extra
protection. According to candidates, the quoted price for
extra police protection was in the range of 2000Ksh per day
(approximately 32USD). As a general rule, women candidates
are under-funded and are unable to pay for police protection.
Therefore, they go without security, despite the dangerous
environment in which they operate. If they are able to pay
for security, they more often opt for a cheaper security
option: paying gangs of unemployed (and untrained) youth for
protection. Commissioner Ali's statement aside, the
determining factor on whether or not women aspirants get
extra security is the assessment of the local police

commissioner. If the police head is motivated, a candidate
may receive protection for individual campaign events.

19. (SBU) Police have taken concrete actions against the
distribution of hate literature. In early December, four men
in Keiyo District, Rift Valley Province were arrested on
suspicion of distributing hate literature. The pamphlets
allegedly contained a picture doctored so that Raila Odinga
appearsto be hanging former president Daniel Arap Moi, with
other prominent Kalenjin leaders await execution at the hands
of Raila. The suspects were arrested by police after being
chased by matatu drivers who had collected samples of the
pamphlet and phoned the police to alert them. News reports
stated that two of the four were members of the Kenya
Administrative Police, a separate institution that answers to
the Ministry of Interior, not the Kenyan National Police
Commissioner (reftel A).

20. (SBU) To stem the flow of hate speech on the campaign
trail, the police announced on December 1 the formation of a
central media monitoring center to assess the content of
speeches and campaign events. These centers are to be
replicated at the Provincial level. Police have threatened
to press criminal charges where they find that certain speech
threatens to cause civil unrest. It is unclear whether this
initiative will have teeth: it is likely that it is meant
sending a signal to politicians to dampen their rhetoric and
self-censor speech content. These monitoring efforts will not
impede the use of hate speech disseminated on-line or through

21.(SBU) In connection with electoral violence in Kuresoi and
Molo constituencies, police have arrested 100 suspects and
charged 60 in connection with the violence. After the first
round of house burnings and raids, GSU paramilitary police
were brought in and temporarily calmed the situation, but
were unable to end the conflict. On December 6, Minister for
Internal Security John Michuki visited the region and
gathered leaders to broker a cease fire. At the conclusion of
the day long talks, Michuki announced the deployment of a
helicopter squad to the area to augment security forces
already there. While there are no indications that local
police are involved in the attacks, we have heard that police
effectiveness has been hampered because individual officer,s
response has, at times, been colored by ethnic ties to
affected communities (Kenyan police are normally not assigned
to their local communities, but Kalenjin, Kikuyu and Kisii
police officers from outside the area can serve in the area).
Some suggest that stationing of police from outside the area
with no ethnic ties to any community will increase police
effectiveness in containing the violence in Kuresoi and Molo.


22. (SBU) Opinion polls show a close race between Kibaki and
Raila Odinga, and we expect the campaign to be hard fought
and tense, with sporadic conflict between rival supporters.
The ECK has played an active role in bringing together
political parties to reduce some of the tension around the
elections, such as brokering agreements on the use of master
registration lists to enable the widest possible franchise,
but it has not until now punished violations of the Code of
Conduct. Given its limited resources, ECK efforts to punish
violations of the Code could not be comprehensive, and
selective punishment could open it up to allegations of
partiality. The ECK has instead focused on undertaking the
logistical preparations necessary to conduct the elections.
To their credit, the police have acted in a neutral and
professional manner to instances of violence, although they
have largely failed to protect women candidates. Public
outcry over electoral violence has lead to a public spat
between the ECK Chairman, the Police Commissioner, and the
Attorney General's office, with each stating that the other
two institutions should be more active in punishing violators
of the Code. We are concerned by the ongoing violence in the
Mount Elgon and Kuresoi/Molo regions, which, if it remains
unresolved, could impact the ability to conduct elections in
these areas. Minister Michuki's move to deploy a helicopter
squad to Kuresoi, while welcome, is open to interpretation as

government intervention to assist the afflicted Kikuyu
community, in contrast to the more laissez faire approach in
Mt. Elgon, which does not impact Kikuyu (both Kibaki and
Michuki are Kikuyu). But the fact remains that, thus far,
the national police have performed their duties in a
professional and neutral manner. This is a welcome sign that
the campaign, though hard fought and occasionally violent,
will not spin out of control. END COMMENT

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