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Cablegate: Kenya Coast Peace Conference Draws Sro

VZCZCXRO1492
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHNR #1222/01 1330817
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 120817Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5761
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM 5965
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 2040
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0079
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2803
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI 5262
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 NAIROBI 001222

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/E
LONDON, PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KE
SUBJECT: KENYA COAST PEACE CONFERENCE DRAWS SRO
CROWD

1. SUMMARY: Mombasa American Presence Post
Officer (APPO) based in Nairobi attended a one-
day peace conference in Mombasa. The conference,
the theme of which was "Sustainable Peace and
Development in the Coast" drew a standing-room-
only crowd. Guests included provincial and
district officials, members of parliament,
ministry representatives, and Coast religious,
business and civic leaders, including women and
youth. Kenya's "Ambassador of Peace," Bethuel
Kiplagat, stressed the importance of the link
between peace and development. Break-out
sessions allowed invitees to address problems in
their districts and to begin considering
solutions, using the many resources available to
them from the conference. The conference
organizers plan to hold a follow-on conference in
the next several months to assess outcomes, which
we will track as part of our peace-building
efforts on the Coast and more generally
throughout Kenya. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- ----
PWANI 4 PEACE: LOCAL SOLUTIONS FOR LOCAL PROBLEMS
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. On April 14, Mombasa American Presence Post
officer (presently based in Nairobi) attended the
one-day "Pwani 4 Peace Leaders' Conference
2008" in Mombasa. (Pwani is the Swahili word for
'coast.') Pwani 4 Peace, a Mombasa-based
community support and development organization,
is an initiative of local business, religious,
women, and youth leaders formed after the
disputed December 2007 elections to promote
peace. The group is credited by the Provincial
Commissioner of Coast Province with having
prevented violent outbreaks in the weeks
following the elections through the various
activities it organized.

3. The theme of the conference was "Sustainable
Peace and Development in the Coast." The 350
invitees included Members of Parliament,
government officials at the Provincial and
District levels, representatives of government
ministries having offices in the province,
religious and business leaders, and civic groups.
(Note: The U.S. Embassy was the only foreign
entity attending the conference; APPO was treated
as a special guest, with seating on the dais. End
Note.) Chase Bank and SafariCom (Kenya's largest
telecommunications company) were among the
conference's sponsors. Attendance was standing
room only.

4. In his keynote speech and official opening,
Coast Provincial Commissioner Ernest G. Munyi
outlined several of the problems facing local
communities: high unemployment, particularly
among the youth; land issues, including
squatters; drug trafficking and use; and severe
poverty.

---------------------------
KENYA'S AMBASSADOR OF PEACE
---------------------------

5. Kenya's "Ambassador of Peace," Bethuel
Kiplagat, was the conference's chief guest and
main speaker (Note: Kiplagat is a career diplomat
who served as Kenya's Ambassador to France and
High Commissioner to Great Britain, was a former
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and served as special envoy to the
Somalia Peace Talks. Kiplagat is one of core
members of Concerned Citizens for Peace, another
peace initiative of prominent Kenyan leaders
formed in the wake of the election crisis. End
Note.)


NAIROBI 00001222 002 OF 003


6. Kiplagat hailed Pwani4Peace as a local
initiative that should set an example for other
provinces. He praised the (self-financed) group
for bringing stakeholders from across the
province into one room for discussions and
focusing on the link between peace and
development.

7. Kiplagat emphasized the need to map different
conflict zones and look at the underlying
problems with brutal frankness. He told the
group, for example, that one cannot say that the
recent elections were free and fair from the
beginning. He cited political zones which
"belong" to a party, where other parties can't
campaign. He also cited a mentality of power
instead of service to the country which must be
overcome. Kiplagat said that all have a
responsibility for what happened either through
their silence or their encouragement. He
counseled avoiding setting up commissions,
stating, "We know what the problem is; let's deal
with it!" He also encouraged attendees to shed
their mentality of dependence, saying, "We have
more than enough resources in ourselves."

---------------------
PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT
---------------------

9. Seven Members of Parliament (one-third of
elected MPs from the Coast Province) were present
and spoke briefly. They pledged to join together
for economic development, to define common
objectives, and to rectify resource imbalances.
Provincial department heads of ministries and
microfinance institutions later presented a
session on entrepreneurial opportunities on the
Coast.

10. When asked to identify problems and
injustices in their respective regions, response
from attendees was overwhelming. Given that
their list covered everything from agriculture to
witchcraft, it is easy to understand why people
feel overwhelmed and powerless. Land issues
figured prominently among the complaints, along
with poverty, underdevelopment, unemployment and
lack of employee rights, unequal access to the
benefits of natural resources (both mineral and
wildlife), and illiteracy and school dropouts.
But the exercise also helped them to focus on the
role that local communities, in concert with
local government, can play in resolving some of
these issues.

11. COMMENT: Pwani4Peace organizers were
justifiably proud of the outcome of the
conference, and the organization plans to hold a
follow-on conference in a few months to revisit
issues that were discussed and to assess progress
towards resolving them at the local level. This
conference is important in that it is the first
time that such an event has been conceived,
funded and implemented by strong community
leaders overlooking ethnic and religious
differences and coming together for a greater
common cause. Their ability to attract strong
government support (the Provincial Commissioner
spent the full day at the conference, and most
Members of Parliament stayed for several hours)
gives the group additional clout in the province.
APPO will continue to follow the organization's
activities to see if they can continue the
momentum and goodwill generated by the
conference.

12. COMMENT, CONT: The Nairobi-based APPO's
presence at the conference and a Coastal Security
Workshop, which is being reported septel,
underscored the need for a permanent U.S.

NAIROBI 00001222 003 OF 003


presence in Mombasa. We appreciate the AF
Bureau's continued strong support for opening an
APP in Mombasa as soon as funding becomes
available.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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