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Cablegate: Kenya: January 17, 2008

O 171605Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4281
INFO AMEMBASSY KAMPALA PRIORITY
CDC ATLANTA GA PRIORITY 4227

UNCLAS NAIROBI 000197

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC CASC KE PGOV
SUBJECT: KENYA: JANUARY 17, 2008

REF: A. NAIROBI 190

B. 184 AND PREVIOUS

1. AS OF 01/17 1800 HOURS (NAIROBI TIME):

SECURITY SITUATION: AROUND 1400 HOURS, SEVERAL ODM
LEADERS ATTEMPTED TO LEAD A GROUP OF PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATORS
INTO UHURU PARK AND WERE STOPPED BY POLICE, WITH TEAR
GAS. THE DEMONSTRATORS RETREATED. LARGE BUT PEACEFUL
DEMONSTRATIONS IN ELDORET; MOMBASA QUIET; POCKETS OF
CONFRONTATION IN NAIROBI AND KISUMU, LARGELY BETWEEN
POLICE AND GANGS OF YOUTH IN THE KIBERA AND MATHARE AREAS
OF NAIROBI AND THE SUBURBS OF KISUMU, CHARACTERIZED BY
GROUPS OF YOUNG MEN BURNING TIRES AND ERECTING ROADBLOCKS,
AND CHALLENGING POLICE. ONE PERSON REPORTED KILLED IN SUCH
A CONFRONTATION WITH THE POLICE IN KISUMU. TWO PEOPLE WERE
REPORTED KILLED BY A MOB IN NAIROBI, BEFORE POLICE COULD
INTERVENE.

IT IS DIFFICULT TO DISTINGUISH IF THE PROTANGONISTS ARE
DEMONSTRATORS OR OPPORTUNISTIC CRIMINAL "GANGS." KIBERA
AND MATHARE ARE AREAS WHERE CRIMINAL GANGS, INCLUDING
THE INFAMOUS MUNGIKI, ARE ACTIVE; KIBERA HAS BEEN A
BATTLE GROUND IN THE PAST BETWEEN RESIDENTS/GANGS OF
DIFFERENT ETHNIC GROUPS AND BETWEEN RESIDENTS AND POLICE.
WHILE NOT MINIMIZING THE EXTENT OF VIOLENCE IN PARTS OF
NAIROBI, IT SHOULD BE RECALLED THAT FOR MANY YEARS NAIROBI
HAS BEEN PLAGUED BY VIOLENT CRIME AND IS RATED "CRITICAL"
THREAT FOR CRIME AND TERRORISM.

THE AMBASSADOR TODAY SENT LETTERS TO THE MINISTERS FOR
INTERNAL
SECURITY AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS EXPRESSING OUR "GRAVE CONCERNS
WITH THE USE OF UNJUSTIFIED DEADLY FORCE IN RESPONSE TO
DEMONSTRATIONS," SPECIFICALLY CITING THE VIDEO AIRED BY KTN
TELEVISION ON THE EVENING OF JANUARY 16 THAT SHOWS SECURITY
FORCES USING DEADLY FORCE AGAINST TWO UNARMED, NON-THREATENING
DEMONSTRATORS IN KISUMU. (SEPTEL)

MISSION PERSONNEL: EMBASSY -- AND CDC AND MRU OFFICES -- IN
NAIROBI AND KISUMU WERE OPEN FOR BUSINESS TODAY AND WILL BE
TOMORROW. ALL OFFICIAL AMERICANS AND FSN/LES EMPLOYEES ARE
ACCOUNTED FOR; AGENCY AND SECTION HEADS HAVE BEEN REMINDED TO
NOTIFY AND MAINTAIN CONTACT WITH TDY VISITORS. INTERNATIONAL
SCHOOL OF KENYA WAS OPEN TODAY AND WILL BE TOMORROW. ROSSLYN
ACADEMY WILL BE ON HALF-DAY SCHEDULE THROUGH THE END OF THE
WEEK.

AMCITS: NO REPORTS OF CASUALTIES TO DATE. AMBASSADOR HAS
SCHEDULED A TOWN HALL MEETING WITH NON-OFFICIAL AMERICANS FOR
FRIDAY, JANUARY 18.

POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS: FORMER SG KOFI ANNAN, WHO POSTPONED
HIS ARRIVAL FOR HEALTH REASONS, IS EXPECTED TO ARRIVE IN
NAIROBI TOMORROW, JANUARY 18. THE TWO MEMBERS OF THE AFRICAN
EMINENT PERSONS MISSION, GRACA MACHEL AND BENJAMIN MKAPA,
ARRIVED TODAY.
RANNEBERGER

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