Cablegate: Museveni Steps Into Kenyan Political Process
P 221252Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KAMPALA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9891
INFO IGAD COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L KAMPALA 000097
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/21/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KE UG
SUBJECT: MUSEVENI STEPS INTO KENYAN POLITICAL PROCESS
REF: KAMPALA 23
Classified By: CDA Andrew Chritton for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) Citing his capacities as Chairman of the East Africa Community, and Commonwealth Chairman in Office, President Museveni traveled to Kenya on January 22 to attempt discussions with Kenyan factions on the political problems resulting from the December 2007 elections. XXXXXXXXXXXX told Pol/Econ chief on January 21 that Museveni assessed that other initiatives had failed and that the stakes were too high for Uganda to wait any longer. Continued political unrest in Kenya and insecurity on the border deeply concerned Uganda, which was heavily dependent on Mombassa and Eldoret routes for goods and fuel.
2. (C) According to XXXXXXXXXXXX Museveni's preferred outcome would be the negotiation of a power-sharing arrangement between Kibaki and Odinga, while other options could be discussed -- such as a recount or holding a new election. Museveni believes that whoever won the election, won by only a small margin. Pursuing a "winner-take-all" outcome would only lead to more instability in Kenya, with spill-over into Uganda. Museveni believes that pre-election and post-election political infighting allowed underlying ethnic divisions to break through the surface. According to Kagamba, Museveni genuinely fears the possibility of an ethnic conflict erupting next door.
3. (C) In a January 22 conversation with the British High Commissioner in Kampala, Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa broadly confirmed XXXXXXXXXXXX’s preview of Museveni's trip to Nairobi, although Kutesa's description of Museveni's solution put greater emphasis on a mechanism to determine legitimacy (reftel). Kutesa did not know whether Museveni was coordinating with Kofi Annan, and this was of concern to the British Government, according to the High Commissioner, which worried Museveni could allow the Kenyan factions to confound Annan's mission. (Note: the High Commissioner in Kampala believes there is a good chance the Kenyan Government will ask the High Commissioner in Nairobi to leave, due to London's non-recognition of Kibaki. End note.)
4. (C) Museveni is apparently in agreement with our argument that the actual vote in Kenya was a virtual draw and that a political compromise was necessary. As reported in reftel, Museveni also believes there must be some mechanism to address the issue of who legitimately won. Beyond the immediate and practical problems for Uganda of transportation vulnerability and refugees, Kenya is also causing political noise in Uganda. Politicians and the press in Kampala have pointed to the possible future parallel of Kenya and Uganda's next elections in 2011, where Museveni's popular vote could fall to around 50 percent. Moreover, public opinion in Uganda, including within ruling party circles, is partly sympathetic to Odinga after what Ugandans describe as "clumsy rigging" by Kibaki. Compounding the irksome fact that Museveni felt trapped into "recognizing" Kibaki's election, according to Foreign Ministry officials, Museveni still stands alone in that position. The opposition in Uganda is calling the recognition self-serving, and potentially troublesome for Uganda among Kenya's Odinga supporters.