Cablegate: Kenya: A/S Frazer,S Meetings with President Kibaki

DE RUEHNR #0312/01 0291447
P 291447Z JAN 08




E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/29/2018

Classified By: Ambassador Ranneberger, reasons 1.4 (b,d)

1. (C) Summary: Assistant Secretary Frazer, joined by
Ambassador Ranneberger, met with President Mwai Kibaki on
January 5 and January 7 to seek a path towards ending the
political crisis stemming from the disputed December 27
presidential election results. She carried with her
Secretary Rice's message of an end to the violence and an

agreement to dialogue among the principals in the electoral
dispute for a political resolution. In both meetings, Kibaki
was fully engaged and in control of his meeting, though
members of his team comfortably voiced divergent viewpoints.
In the January 5 meeting, Kibaki and his team focused on the
need to end the post-election violence and their fear that
Kikuyus were specifically being targeted. In the January 7
meeting, Kibaki was put on the defensive by A/S Frazer who
sought an explanation and remedy for his naming of a partial
cabinet on the eve of the African Union Chairman and Ghanaian
President John Kufuor's arrival to facilitate talks between
he and Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Party (ODM).

2. (C) During both meetings, Kibaki said the right things in
condemning violence and being open to dialogue to end the
political crisis. Furthermore, Kibaki agreed in principle to
forming a government of national unity and reconstituting his
cabinet following talks with Odinga. However, his subsequent
actions clearly suggested that he and his team were also
moving towards consolidating power and that dialogue with
Odinga was perhaps a fallback plan in whatever political
strategy they had to end the political crisis. End Summary.

3. (C) During A/S Frazer,s mission to Kenya from January
4-11, she met with President Kibaki twice, on January 5 and
7, to reinforce the message from Washington: entering into
dialogue with Odinga to find a political resolution to the
current crisis is the way forward and an end to all violence
on all sides is paramount. A/S Frazer pointed out that
Kenyans had come out en masse to vote and largely did so
peacefully in a process that appeared to be clean, up to the
point of vote tallying. She emphasized that there were
clearly problems with the vote count and this should be
acknowledged and addressed by Kibaki in the interest of
helping to heal divisions in the country. She reminded
Kibaki of the more conciliatory tone he struck during his
first address to the nation, which acknowledged that Kenyans
had voted across the spectrum and which was a basis from
which reconciliation could be built upon. A/S Frazer argued
that political dialogue is the most viable way out of the
current crisis as Kenyan courts are not considered impartial
by ODM.

4. (C) While Kibaki repeatedly said in both meetings he was
open to political dialogue, his position was quite clear: he
won the election fairly; if ODM has concerns about the
outcome they should take their complaints to court because
once the Electoral Commission of Kenya makes a call on
elections the courts are the sole constitutional remedy (and
his government would obey their ruling, Kibaki said); and ODM
is to blame for post-election fighting and it is
orchestrating an organized campaign of violence.

5. (C) Kibaki emphasized that the real problem at hand from
his government's perspective is not the controversial
presidential election result but the violence that has
ensued, and he said ending it was their primary focus.
Kibaki pushed the point that Odinga and other ODM leaders
need to come out and call for an end to the violence.

6. (C) Martha Karua, the Minister of Justice and
Constitutional Affairs and clearly one of the hardliners in
Kibaki's inner circle, attended the January 5 meeting (joined
by then Foreign Minister Raphael Tuju, Foreign Ministry
Permanent Secretary Thuita Mwangi, and Advisor Stanley
Murage) during which she conceded that while some of the
post-election violence may have been spontaneous, for the
most part it has been pre-planned, she said. Kibaki echoed
this point arguing that the youth are being paid to commit
such acts. Tuju, a Luo, contended that ODM supporters were
specifically targeting the Kikuyu, whom he said have
exercised a lot of restraint up to now, suggesting that they
could retaliate especially in areas like Nairobi where they

NAIROBI 00000312 002 OF 003

are a majority, as Karua pointed out. Kibaki and his team
emphasized they would not kowtow to the violence, which they
consider ODM is using as "blackmail." Mwangi recounted how he
had to send a vehicle to Eldoret to rescue members of his
family from the violence in that area. He claimed the
post-electoral violence had been instigated by ODM and that
it would have "unleashed" such violence even if it had won
the election because of its desire for "majimbo" -- the idea
of decentralized governance with the connotation that major
ethnic groups will govern autonomously over their own

7. (C) A/S Frazer stressed that the USG condemned all
violence and promised to continue to push the issue with ODM
to call an end to it. She, however, asked Kibaki to
demonstrate leadership by engaging with Raila in dialogue
even in these difficult times; if former Presidents Nelson
Mandela and F.W. de Klerk of South Africa could do it after
years of violence, distrust, and political struggle in South
Africa, surely he and Raila could do the same to move Kenya
forward. After all, they have worked together in the past
and they do know each other, perhaps too well, she added.
A/S Frazer noted there were failures in leadership on both
sides -- that Raila should reign in those committing violence
and that Kibaki should come out with a statement
acknowledging electoral problems.

8. (C) A/S Frazer asked that Kibaki and Raila issue separate
statements condemning violence, acknowledging there were real
problems with the elections, and agreeing to dialogue
(initially a joint statement was proposed and Kibaki was
unopposed to it, but Karua and Tuju nixed the idea arguing
that it would give the appearance of a "co-presidency."); the
statements would help heal and normalize the country*the
most immediate need*and are exclusive of the issue of how
the parties will actually come to a political arrangement on
governance, A/S Frazer explained. While Kibaki expressed
doubt that Raila truly wanted peace and said he was a man who
spoke in "two languages" -- something he saw as a significant
obstacle to dialogue -- he agreed to issue a statement, but
never did. However, almost immediately after the January 5
meeting, the Presidential Press Service issued a statement
that said the government was open to dialogue and forming a
government of national unity.

9. (C) On the eve of President Kufuor's arrival in Kenya to
help facilitate talks between Kibaki and Odinga, Kibaki
announced on January 7 the appointment of eight key cabinet
members. A/S Frazer met with him that evening to express
great disappointment and surprise at such action,
particularly on the day before expected talks between ODM and
PNU. She said the cabinet appointments were preemptive, that
it seemed like Kibaki was taking the issue of cabinet
positions off the negotiating table and was prepared to
exclude ODM from any kind of coalition government, and that
the USG was seriously considering denouncing the government
should Kibaki not take remedial action. A/S Frazer also took
Kibaki to task for not issuing the statement on vote tallying
irregularities while noting that Odinga had honored his
commitment to condemn violence and call off rallies given
current political tensions.

10. (C) Kibaki argued that he was not preempting talks and
that he only announced the partial cabinet to keep the
government running -- that it was only "logical" to do so, he
said. Logical as it may be, the timing in naming a cabinet
was bad faith, A/S Frazer told Kibaki. In the end, Kibaki
said that he was open to changing cabinet positions if this
was decided during talks with ODM, along with having the
talks deal with a broader range of issues such as electoral
and institutional reform. After intense negotiations with
Kibaki and his team, it was agreed that Kibaki would issue a
statement explaining why he appointed a cabinet when he did,
clarifying that the cabinet was subject to change pending
outcome of talks with ODM, and noting that nothing would be
ruled out in these discussions. Francis Muthaura, Secretary
to the Cabinet, and the newly appointed Foreign Minister
Wetengula fought the idea of issuing a public statement
clarifying the cabinet position appointment, but Kibaki was
decisive in wanting it done; the statement was issued the
following day.

NAIROBI 00000312 003 OF 003

11. (C) Comment: Kibaki and his team are fixated on the
post-election violence and fail to truly own up to the fact
that the flawed election results were the impetus to the
crisis. They seem almost oblivious to the vote tallying
problems, treating it as a minor detail that can be brushed
aside and dealt with through legal means. Kibaki seemed
reasonable and could be influenced with a well-argued point;
members of his team, like Martha Karua, were clearly more
hardline in their positions and do not seem truly interested
in dialogue with ODM. Distrust of ODM was very evident in
statements by both Kibaki and members of his team during
these conversations. While Kibaki and his team are quite
dismissive of ODM protests about the problems with the
elections, the fact that Kibaki is open to dialogue with
Raila suggests he has not completely bought into PNU's
narrative that they won the presidential elections fair and
square; there may be hope yet that Kibaki will assert
leadership to pursue a political solution with ODM. End

12. (U) This cable has been cleared by Assistant Secretary

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