Cablegate: July 4 Reception Advances Support for Coalition Government

R 090652Z JUL 08



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: July 4 Reception Advances Support for Coalition Government


1. (U) Embassy Nairobi's tremendously successful July 4 reception
was highlighted by the joint appearance of Prime Minster Odinga and
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka. More than 2,000 guests witnessed
the political rivals joining the Ambassador on the podium for
speeches, all of which focused on support for the coalition
government. The presence of a large CODEL emphasized the strength
of the U.S.-Kenya relationship. End summary.

Kenyan Unity at July 4 Reception

2. (U) The July 4 reception, hosted by the Ambassador at his
residence, was attended by over 2,000 guests from Parliament, the
executive branch, civil society, religious groups, the private
sector, the media, and Kenya's cultural community, among others.
The event was made possible through funding donated by the American
Chamber of Commerce.

3. (U) Both Prime Minister Odinga and Vice President Musyoka
attended and put on a display of unity by joining the Ambassador on
the podium during his speech. The Ambassador's remarks emphasized
support for the coalition government tied to the achievement of
results on institutional reform (see text of Ambassador's remarks in
para 5). The joint high-profile presence of Odinga and Musyoka, who
are bitter rivals, was unprecedented since the formation of the
coalition government (they have generally been together only in the
presence of the President). Still unresolved is the protocol order
of the coalition government, but the two skirted the issue
gracefully, with Musyoka acquiescing in Odinga's determination to
make remarks on behalf of the government. Indicating that he was
also speaking on behalf of President Kibaki, Odinga lauded the
decisive role played by the U.S. in helping resolve the Kenyan
crisis, spoke in glowing terms of his visit to the U.S., and
emphasized the commitment he and President Kibaki share to make the
coalition work. The speaker of Parliament jointed Musyoka and
Odinga on the podium. Congressman David Price, who was heading a
6-member congressional delegation, also made remarks emphasizing
U.S. support for the coalition government and the necessity for the
government to deliver results for all the people of Kenya. Other
notable guests included Mama Obama, Senator Obama's grandmother, and
Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai.

4. (U) The event was extensively and very positively covered on all
the television stations, on radio, and in the print media. A number
of commentators noted that only the U.S. could have brought the two
leaders and such a diverse cross-section of Kenya together. Many
guests attending the reception expressed warm gratitude for the role
that the U.S. played to "save Kenya," and welcomed our continuing
engagement to keep the process on track.

5. (U) Begin text of Ambassador's remarks.

Leaders of the Coalition Government, Honorable Ministers,
Colleagues, Guests, and Friends:

I want to extend a very warm welcome to all of you who have joined
us to celebrate the 232nd anniversary of the independence of the
United States of America. I also want to note that we are
particularly honored to have with us a distinguished U.S.
Congressional Delegation headed by Representative David Price of
North Carolina. Here in Kenya, we are making this event a
celebration of the vibrant, strong, and expanding partnership
between our two countries. This is fitting because that partnership
is based on the democratic values and friendship we share.

Those universal democratic values were immortally articulated by one
of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, in the Declaration of
Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all
men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments
are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the
consent of the governed."

During the past 231 years Americans have consolidated institutions
intended to ensure democratic government of, by, and for the people.
In light of the profound crisis that gripped Kenya earlier this
year, it is particularly relevant to recall that the progress the
people of the United States have made over these many years has
often been difficult, sometimes painfully slow, and occasionally
bloody. Examining this history tells us with certainty that the
process of building democracy is never easy and is never complete.

To the extent we have been successful, we have benefited from the
extraordinary achievement of our founding fathers, for they put in
place a constitutional framework based on the principle of checks
and balances. That system was based on a hard-headed assessment
that, in order to protect the interests of all citizens, the power
of any one institution, individual, or group must be limited.
Indeed, the challenge to balance respect for the will of the
majority with the necessity to protect the rights of minorities is a
constant struggle in all democracies.

As we reflect upon this independence anniversary and the partnership
we share, I am reminded of the Kenyan proverb: "Nia zikiwa moja
kilicho mbali huja (no matter their differences, people working
toward similar goals can achieve them). The Kenyan people deserve
enormous credit for coming together to overcome the crisis that
threatened to tear apart the fabric of their nation. They did this
ultimately by drawing on their shared values and their shared goals
to strengthen the country's democracy, society, and economy. The
coalition government is rightly based on shared interests.

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the Kenyan people
for never having deviated from the democratic path, and for, in
effect, constituting a new model for the democracies of the
developing world. On behalf of the United States, I also want to
commend President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga for demonstrating
patriotic leadership by making difficult compromises for the good of
all Kenyans. The recent official visit of the Prime Minister to
Washington highlighted my country's support for the coalition
government and our determination to help it deliver tangible results
for the Kenyan people.

We recognize the commitment of the coalition government to deliver
on its promise to carry out fundamental institutional reform in
order to address the underlying grievances revealed by the crisis.
We join the Kenyan people in looking forward to timely results with
respect to constitutional reform, electoral reform, and land reform.
We join the Kenyan people in wanting to see credible results from
the various commissions formed as a result of the national political
accord. Indeed, the future of our bilateral relationship is
inextricably tied to the progress of democracy in Kenya.

Among the many things that we share, the United States and Kenya are
both communities which encompass great diversity of cultures, ethnic
and racial groups, and religions. The history of our two countries -
ours going back centuries, Kenya's only decades - shows that
diversity enriches and strengthens our nations if we learn to value
it. Though we Americans have had far more time to build our
democracy than Kenya has, we can truly say that neither democratic
system is perfect. In the U.S. - as in Kenya -- we struggle to
fight corruption, to promote communal harmony, to foster security,
and to bring about gender equity. Acutely aware of our own
imperfections and limitations, we support the efforts of the Kenyan
people to address these difficult challenges. But we need to follow
the Swahili saying that "kila mlango na ufunguo wake" (every door
has its own key) because it is up to Kenyans to solve their problems
in their own ways. At the same time, we must be quick to remember
that "kinyozi hajinyoi" (a barber does not shave himself). As a
reliable friend, we will continue to assist your efforts and to
support the positive momentum underway.

As a symbol of the rich partnership between the United States and
Kenya, I invite you to witness, immediately following these remarks,
the dedication of the new rose garden that is "dedicated to peace
and to the U.S.-Kenyan partnership."

Americans and Kenyans share a belief in the power of the collective
spirit, profoundly illustrated by both countries' journeys to
independence. I am struck by three Swahili sayings that seem to
capture, long before America was founded, a sense of our mutual
faith in the will of the people. One says: Penye wengi pana Mungu
(Where there are many people, there God is); our pledge of
allegiance speaks of "one nation under God." Another reads: "Umoja
ni nguvu" (unity is strength); the inscription on our currency is
"one from many." Yet another reads: Panapo wengi hapaharibiki neno
(where there are many, nothing goes wrong). Ladies and gentlemen,
we are many gathered here, and we trust that this gathering and our
future efforts together will be blessed.

Please join me in raising our glasses in a toast to the 232nd
anniversary of the independence of the United States of America, to
Kenya's democratic progress, and to the partnership between the
United States and Kenya.

Ahsanteni sana na Mungu awabariki.

End text.


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