Cablegate: Ambassador Addresses Kenya Law Society

DE RUEHNR #0680/01 0701447
O 101447Z MAR 08





E.O.12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Ambassador Addresses Kenya Law Society

1. The following is the text of a speech delivered by the
Ambassador to the Law Society of Kenya's Annual Dinner on
March 8. It received extraordinary positive coverage in
national and local television, radio, and print media:

Begin text:

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From Crisis to Opportunity: Sustaining Kenya on Its
Democratic Path
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2. Good evening. I am honored and delighted to be
invited to deliver the keynote address at the Law Society
of Kenya's Annual Dinner.

3. I cannot think of a more appropriate venue at which to
deliver remarks regarding the current situation. You have
grown from a society of less than 30 members in 1949 to
become the largest and most respected bar association in
East Africa. You have helped shape the national debate
on a wide range of issues including multi-party
democracy, corruption, land reform, and constitutional
reform, among others. Your voices have been prominent and
have thoughtfully influenced efforts to resolve the
crisis of the past two months. Your voices will continue
to resonate as the country tackles the challenging agenda
before it.

4. I make my remarks in the spirit of the strong
partnership and friendship between the United States and
Kenya. We want to see Kenya sustained on its democratic
path because that is in the best interests of all
Kenyans, and because it is in our interest too. I truly
believe that the profound crisis that Kenya experienced
provides an opportunity for the country to emerge with
stronger democratic institutions, a more cohesive
society, and an even more vibrant economy that can more
equitably benefit all citizens.

5. I am confident that Kenyans will seize this historic
opportunity. My optimism is based on the substantial
record of democratic achievement of the past five years,
and on the successful way in which Kenyans resolved the
electoral crisis. Although the crisis unmasked long-
simmering underlying problems, it also revealed
underlying strengths.

--------------------------------------------- -------
Kenya's Democracy -- Underlying Problems, Underlying
--------------------------------------------- -------

6. Few other African countries and few other developing
countries anywhere in the world could have survived the
tremendous strains placed on their institutions by such a
political crisis. The underlying strengths that helped
Kenyans pull through include a dynamic civil society,
strong religious institutions, the highest functional
literacy rate in Africa, the enormous democratic space
opened up since the 2002 elections, a forthright media,
an increasingly modern and booming private sector, and a
high rate of economic growth, to name just a few. Yet
another important institutional strength of Kenya must be
noted: the highly professional armed forces, whose
integrity and professionalism shone throughout the
crisis. Despite all the of problems many prefer to dwell
on -- including the undeniable inequity in the
distribution of resources, corruption, and ethnic
politics -- Kenyans have remained remarkably engaged in
the political process, as evidenced by the high turnout
in the elections.

7. Four factors brought the parties to the negotiating
table and produced a positive outcome. First and
foremost, this democratic spirit was felt as Kenyans
across the economic, social, ethnic, and political
spectrum made their voices heard. The people sent a clear
message to their leaders on both sides that they wanted a
political solution to end the violence and return the
country to a path of progress. Kenyans' voices were
heard through civil society, religious groups, the media,
and the private sector. Kenyans placed remarkable
pressure on the political leadership of both sides.

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Second, international pressure complemented this domestic
outcry, and made clear to both sides that there was no
viable alternative other than a political accord.
Secretary of State Rice and Assistant Secretary Frazer

traveled to Kenya to bolster the efforts of the African
Union and Kofi Annan and urge an immediate end to
violence. Third, President Kibaki and Honorable Odinga
are essentially pragmatic politicians who have worked
together before and who realized that they are
accountable to the people. They saw that sharing power
was the only way to prevent the country from slipping
into chaos and isolation. Fourth, the negotiations
greatly benefited from the skillful and forceful
direction of Kofi Annan and his team. Kenya and friends
of Kenya are grateful for their important contribution to
peace in this country.

8. Kenyans should be justifiably proud that they have
been able to find a way back from the edge of the abyss
and sustain the country on a democratic path. The
prevailing mood I sense in Nairobi and across the nation
is one of immense relief, with a positive focus on the
way forward. I found this to be true in the Rift Valley,
during my visit on March 1st and 2nd. One highlight of
that visit was speaking to several thousand primarily
Kikuyu internally displaced persons at their camp and
later -- not more than one kilometer away -- speaking at a
peace rally attended by thousands of Kalenjins. My
remarks to both groups about the need for reconciliation,
support for implementation of the political accord, and
justice were well-received.

The Way Forward

9. I am proud that the United States stood shoulder-to-
shoulder with Kenya in its darkest hour, at times pushing
both sides harder than they wanted to be pushed, because
that is what a real friend does. In that same spirit of
friendship, let me offer my thoughts on the steps that
need to be taken quickly in order to maintain momentum.

10. First, President Kibaki and the Honorable Odinga must
work together effectively to put in place the coalition
government in a way that reflects the letter and spirit
of the agreements signed. Government positions must be
equitably shared but, even more importantly, immediate
steps must be taken to carry through with the ambitious
reform and national policy agendas, particularly with
respect to constitutional, electoral, and land reform.

11. Second, a transparent process must be put in place to
begin work on the reform agenda, to be completed within a
designated timeframe. Work on the reform agenda needs to
be inclusive, particularly through consultation with
civil society.

12. Third, the Parliament must quickly pass the necessary
legislation to make the coalition structure legal and
constitutional. Let us not forget that well over 60
percent of all sitting MPs are newcomers who are being
asked, without the benefit of orientation or training, to
implement some of the most important legislation in
Kenya's history, and then to deal with sweeping and long
overdue reforms. The dynamic leadership of Honorable
Speaker Marende and the political will -- and goodwill
-- of parliamentary leaders will be required to move
forward quickly.

13. Fourth, political leaders, elders, and the respected
personalities of Kenyan society from the top down must
cooperate to send unequivocal messages on the importance
of rapid reconciliation between communities and
individuals. I urge President Kibaki and Honorable
Odinga to undertake joint visits to encourage
reconciliation, and to lead by example.

14. Fifth, urgent practical steps must be taken to
advance the process of reconciliation by helping the
country deal with the havoc wreaked during the crisis.
This includes returning people to their homes in
conditions of peace and safety as quickly as possible,
and restoring their livelihoods. While returns must be

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voluntary, the right of every Kenyan to live and to own
property anywhere in the country must be assured.
Returning displaced to their so-called 'ancestral
homelands' is not a viable option politically, socially,
or economically. Diversity is one of this country's
greatest strengths and it must be cherished. If people
cannot return to their homes, it will validate violence
and weaken the fabric of the nation. At the same time,
appropriate assistance should be provided for all areas
of the country affected by violence.

15. Sixth, steps to promote reconciliation must include
establishing a legally independent Peace, Truth, and
Justice Commission and holding those responsible
accountable under the law. Kenyans are giving real
meaning to my favorite verse in your national anthem:
haki iwe ngao na mlinzi (justice is my shield and
defender). One of the most important results of the
mediation process was agreement to examine Kenya's
history of violence and the long-stranding grievances
which fuel it. The proposed Peace, Truth, and Justice
Commission must provide a meaningful channel for Kenyans
to address both recent and historical injustices. In
conjunction with Kenya's criminal courts, this process
must determine what happened during the recent violence
and hold those accountable who organized, financed, and
perpetrated the violence. Land issues are the basis of
many of the long-standing grievances and the causes of
violence. Instituting a process of land reform will be
critical to fostering reconciliation and building long-
term peace in Kenya.

16. Seventh, the Independent Review Commission charged
with investigating the conduct of the 2007 general
elections must credibly complete its work within the
proposed timeframe. Chain of custody issues make it
highly likely that we will never know what the actual
vote was, but determining where and how the electoral
system broke down is vitally important to fixing it and
restoring Kenyans' confidence in the democratic system.

17. Eighth, the crisis put into sharp relief the plight
of youth, and that problem must be addressed. The
massive unemployment among youth provided fuel for
violence. A national youth agenda needs to expand
vocational training and employment.

18. Ninth, concerted efforts must be made to get the
economy back on track.

19. Only an inclusive process can turn the crisis that
the country experienced into an opportunity. It will be
up to you and to all Kenyans to insist that this be the
case. President Kibaki and Honorable Odinga have found
the political will to share power within a 'grand
coalition' government. How long this political will
endures depends entirely on whether Kenyans take
immediate and decisive advantage of the momentum at hand.
Kenya has a finite window of time to address an ambitious
reform agenda.

20. Perhaps the most important item on the reform agenda
is constitutional change. Kenyans relentlessly debated
almost every salient issue during the 2005 referendum,
and did so after a broad consultative process. This
shared national experience should give Kenya's new
parliamentary leaders a running start on resolving even
the most difficult issues at hand. LSK's Constitutional
Law Committee Report of 2006 makes it perfectly clear,
however, that -- this time -- constitutional reform must be
gotten right. In the report, you said: '[T]he
ramifications of the failed 2005 referendum... was a
national catastrophe in which everybody lost. Billions
of shillings of public money set aside for the
constitutional review process were lost. And worst of
all, we emerged from the referendum a nation severely
torn by ethnic balkanization.' Obviously, the stakes are
an order of magnitude higher today. There can be no
second failure.

21. While the current political accord justifiably
focuses primarily on constitutional, electoral, and land
reform, it is important not to lose sight of other
pressing issues which must be addressed. These include

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intensified and more effective efforts to combat
corruption; continued liberalization of the economic
sector; and promoting gender equity, among others. There
is an urgent need for reform in the judicial sector as
has been made clear by the Chief Justice himself. This
will require providing more resources for the judiciary,
tackling judicial corruption by ensuring transparency and
accountability, and making judicial proceeding more
efficient and open. With an efficient, transparent and
non-partisan justice system, Kenyans will no longer feel
forced to take the law into their own hands. I salute
the LSK's leadership in the fight for legal and judicial

--------------------------------------------- ---
Democracies in Crisis -- the American Experience
--------------------------------------------- ---

22. The fact that Kenya has experienced such a
fundamental crisis does not mean that the democratic
progress made during the past five years was an illusion
or that in some way Kenya is a fundamentally flawed
country. Almost all democracies have experienced crises
of similar or greater magnitude. Our own experience as
Americans helps us understand what transpired here.

23. The experience of the Great Depression in my country
exemplifies how a galvanized political leadership,
sharing a unity of purpose, can move an entire country
from fear and misery to prosperity and national renewal.
Assuming the presidency almost 75 years ago to this very
day and at the depth of the Great Depression, Franklin
Delano Roosevelt vividly described the America he saw at
the time of his inauguration: '[T]he withered leaves of
industrial enterprise lie on every side, farmers find no
markets for their produce, the savings of many years in
thousands of families are gone. More important, a host
of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of
existence, and an equally great number toil with little
return.' When President Roosevelt memorably went on to
state that, 'the only thing we have to fear is fear
itself,' he was really asking Americans to have faith in
their government and -- most especially -- in each other.
Capitalizing on broad support from Republicans and
Democrats alike, FDR passed an extraordinary amount of
legislation during his first 100 days in office. The New
Deal, as it became known, reformed the very fabric of
American business and society. The New Deal created
jobs, including through a National Youth Administration.
It included passage of sweeping farm and ranch policies.

24. The New Deal transformed our nation, and America
emerged from a profound crisis with stronger

25. Another American experience also exemplifies how
crisis can be turned into opportunity for national
renewal. After the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King was
assassinated in 1968, many of the largest U.S. cities
erupted into violence. This became so serious that
military forces had to be deployed to restore order. The
assassination was the spark that set off the riots, but
the violence reflected the anger of the black population
of the United States regarding underlying grievances not
resolved since the Civil War 100 years before. Once
again, Americans rose to the challenge and seized the
opportunity for fundamental change. Poverty programs
were expanded, urban problems were addressed, the inner
cities were rebuilt, and civil rights legislation was
passed. As a result, our country again emerged with
stronger institutions, a stronger economy, and a more
inclusive society.

Kenya, the U.S., and the Global Community

26. The extraordinary amount of attention Kenya received
during the crisis reflects its importance in the regional
and global context. The crisis demonstrated that Kenyan
stability is critical to the economies and the stability
of the entire region. Kenya is home to the most
effective peacekeeping training facility in the region.
Kenya's leadership on Sudan directly led to the

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Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The Nairobi Accord helped
the governments of DRC and Rwanda adopt a common approach
toward eliminating the threat posed by rebel forces.
Bringing stability to Somalia requires Kenyan influence
and assistance. Kenya is now uniquely positioned to show
the region and the world that through dialogue and a
commitment to reform it is possible to rise above
political crisis and come out even stronger than before.

27. Earlier this week I met separately with President
Kibaki and Honorable Raila Odinga to discuss the way
forward. As a result of those conversations, I am
convinced that both men understand the opportunity at
hand. They recognize that the seeds of Kenya's future
must be planted now, and share a sense of urgency. I
told them that we want to help. We are moving quickly to
amplify the U.S.-Kenyan partnership, which already
results in about $2 billion of resource flows from the
United States to Kenya each year. We will make a
concerted effort to encourage expanded trade, investment,
tourism, and cultural and educational exchanges.

28. I am pleased to announce that the United States will
provide an additional USD25 million in funding for
reconciliation and reconstruction. This USD25 million is
in addition to the USD14 million in immediate humanitarian
assistance the United States has provided since January.
This USD25 million will be used to: promote dialogue and
reconciliation; facilitate the return of the displaced to
their homes and resumption of their livelihoods, as well
as assistance with related infrastructure and youth
agenda programs; support for implementation of the
coalition accord, particularly carrying through with the
reform agenda; and assistance for key governance
programs, including strengthening the Parliament and
supporting as appropriate establishment of the new office
of the Prime Minister. We will, of course, consult
closely with the coalition government and civil society
as we move ahead.

29. Secretary of State Rice has also pledged to encourage
other donors and international financial institutions to
provide the support that Kenyans require in order to turn
the crisis they experienced into an historic opportunity.
Greater involvement by the international community will
help to ensure that institutional reform is carried out
in a timely manner. In doing so, we will be supporting a
Kenyan agenda implemented by Kenyans -- and not one
imposed from outside. International support will, of
course, be linked to good faith efforts to implement the
political accord and reform agenda. This will complement
the desire of Kenyans to hold their leaders accountable.

30. Kenya stands at a defining moment in its history.
The political accord is the first step on what will be a
long and challenging journey -- but the United States will
travel it with you. We are confident about Kenya's
future, even 'bullish.' I wish the Law Society of Kenya
and the Kenyan people well as you continue to pursue your
democratic experiment -- one that Americans continue to
pursue after 232 years of independence. Thank you. End text.

© Scoop Media

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