Cablegate: Prime Minister's Visit Advances U.S. Policy
R 141458Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6439
INFO AMEMBASSY KAMPALA
AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM
UNCLAS NAIROBI 001725
FROM THE AMBASSADOR
DEPT FOR AF/E AND A/S FRAZER
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KE ZI
SUBJECT: Prime Minister's Visit Advances U.S. Policy
Ref: (A) Nairobi 1659, (B) State 66179
1. (U) Prime Minister Odinga's June 16-19 visit to the U.S. was a
huge success and advanced U.S. policy to support the coalition
government, to bolster the PM's role to supervise and coordinate the
functions of government, to press for institutional reforms, and to
highlight the U.S.-Kenyan partnership. This message reports on the
visit and identifies follow-up items. End summary.
Odinga Emphasizes Coalition Unity
2. (U) During his June 16-19 visit to Washington, Prime Minister
Raila Odinga conveyed a consistent message of the commitment he and
President Kibaki share to make their coalition government work and
to achieve results. He said that they are coordinating closely, have
established cabinet sub-committees to streamline government work,
have harmonized policy agendas, and have begun to move forward on
institutional reform. The fact that Odinga traveled with Minister of
Transport Mwakwere and Minister of Defense Haji, both from Kibaki's
Party of National Unity (PNU), highlighted Kenyan government unity.
Throughout the visit Mwakwere and Haji made public and private
statements supportive of the coalition government and Odinga's role
as Prime Minister. Odinga heard a consistent message from U.S.
officials, Members of Congress, and the private sector on the need
for the coalition government to deliver on promises to carry out
institutional reforms (constitutional, electoral, and land). The
very warm reception Odinga received in all quarters highlighted the
importance Americans attach to democratic progress in Kenya.
3. (U) U.S. objectives for the visit were: to emphasize U.S.
support for the coalition government, to bolster the role of the
Prime Minister to supervise and coordinate the functions of
government, to emphasize the importance of rapid progress on
institutional reform, to highlight the U.S.-Kenyan partnership, and
to achieve specific deliverables to support these objectives.
These included signing of a Safe Skies agreement, announcement of
the resumption of the Peace Corps program, and announcement of the
Administration's Kenya supplemental request sent to Congress.
4. (U) Meetings with Secretary Rice (ref B), National Security
Adviser Hadley, USAID Administrator Fore, and Assistant Secretary
Frazer were the centerpiece of the visit, and emphasized the U.S.
commitment to work with the coalition government to achieve results
on institutional reform. As in other meetings, Odinga delivered an
unequivocal message that he and President Kibaki share a commitment
to make the coalition government work and to achieve results on
institutional reform. In addition to reviewing the full range of
bilateral issues, A/S Frazer emphasized the need for the Kenyan
government to do more in the search for Rwandan war criminal Kabuga.
FOLLOW-UP: Odinga agreed to energize Kenyan government efforts on
Kabuga, and we are pressing for action.
5. (U) During his meetings with the Secretary, NSA Hadley, and A/S
Frazer, and in public comments, Odinga emphasized his view that the
upcoming elections were a sham, and that African countries must
mount effective efforts to restore democracy to Zimbabwe. A/S
Frazer urged Odinga to help mobilize the AU's Peace and Security
Council. During discussions with Members of Congress, in remarks at
the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), during a
CNN interview, and in other media appearances, Odinga staked out an
unequivocal position on Zimbabwe (see ref A for further reporting on
the Kenyan government's position).
FOLLOW-UP: We are urging the Kenyan government to exert stronger
leadership within the AU on Zimbabwe.
6. (U) A meeting with Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Chief
Executive Officer Danilovich served to emphasize the need for the
coalition government to take substantial additional steps to combat
corruption in order to qualify for a full compact program. Odinga
expressed strong interest in accelerating efforts to achieve a
compact, but MCC officials left him in no doubt about what the
Kenyan government needs to do in order to qualify pursuant to the
MCC's indicators. After stating that "we went to the edge of the
precipice and did not like what we saw," Odinga called the coalition
government "a promising experiment." Odinga stressed his
determination to ensure greater accountability and anti-corruption
efforts, including through reform of the judiciary. Odinga said
that he wants to put an adviser on governance into the PM's office
in order to assist in these efforts.
FOLLOW-UP: Without making any commitment, MCC officials indicated
that they would consider support for this.
7. (U) Odinga had a constructive meeting with USAID Administrator
Fore, who indicated that the U.S. wants to be as helpful as possible
in supporting the coalition government and its efforts on
institutional reform. As he had in other meetings, Odinga said that
the coalition government is making progress and "beginning to work
very well." Odinga identified as a particular priority facilitating
the return of IDPs to their homes. Fore informed Odinga about the
Administration's request to Congress for supplemental funding for
FOLLOW-UP: As he did with MCC, Odinga requested support for a
governance adviser, and for an adviser on agriculture as well.
Without making any commitment, Fore agreed to look into this.
OPIC and EXIM
8. (U) During meetings at OPIC and EXIM Odinga emphasized his desire
to attract more American investment to Kenya. OPIC officials noted
that Kenya is on the list of countries that can benefit from 3
billion dollars in private equity funds. OPIC indicated that it
wants to focus on promotion of micro-credit and low/medium cost
housing. Kenya's Equity Bank already benefits from one of the
private equity funds, and Kenya's Housing Finance Corporation is
interested. EXIM Bank officials indicated that EXIM currently has
460 million dollars in exposure in Kenya. Odinga said that, in
order to attract American investment, he wants to eliminate
obstacles: reducing Kenyan government bureaucratic red tape,
fighting corruption, countering crime, passing anti-money laundering
legislation, reforming the judiciary, and improving the country's
infrastructure. He also wants the Kenyan government to set up a
one-stop shop for investors.
FOLLOW-UP: EXIM officials indicated that Kenyan ratification of the
Cape Town Treaty would be helpful in lowering financing fees, and
the Embassy will press for this.
Department of Transportation
9. (U) At the Department of Transportation, Odinga and the Secretary
of Transportation signed an Open Skies agreement. Odinga emphasized
his commitment to taking the steps necessary to secure category one
status for Kenya's international airport and to sign a Safe Skies
agreement in order to facilitate direct flights between the U.S. and
FOLLOW-UP: We are intensifying work with the Department of
Transportation and the Kenyan government to address security and
10. (U) At the Peace Corps, Director Tschetter highlighted the
return of the Peace Corps to Kenya. Odinga stressed the importance
he attaches to the U.S.-Kenyan partnership. The Director emphasized
the need to reach agreement on an updated bilateral agreement on the
FOLLOW-UP: The Director indicated interest in coming to Kenya to
sign a revised bilateral agreement once it is completed. We are
working with the government to finalize the agreement.
World Bank and IMF
11. (U) During meetings at the World Bank and IMF, officials
expressed a positive view of the coalition government and indicating
interest in expanding engagement.
12. (U) Odinga met extensively with Members of Congress. These
meetings included: members of the House Appropriations
Sub-committee, Congressman Chris Smith, Senate Senator Isakson from
the Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs, Congressman Payne,
Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs Chairman Feingold, Senator
Bill Nelson, and Members of the International Conservation Caucus.
Odinga made cogent presentations on the coalition government, noting
the commitment he and President Kibaki share for 50/50 power-sharing
and to institutional reform. He noted that he and the President are
meeting weekly to coordinate efforts, and that five cabinet
sub-committees have been established to ensure that the large
40-member cabinet works effectively. He pointed out that the PNU
and his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) have already harmonized
positions in order to set new goals through the government's Vision
2030 document. Odinga appealed for support for the supplemental
request sent to Congress for Kenya and appealed for additional
assistance, including through expediting consideration for Kenya for
an MCC compact program. Members of Congress expressed support for
the coalition government, emphasized the need for the coalition to
achieve results on institutional reform, and raised a wide array of
issues, including the need to do more to fight corruption and to
address poverty and inequitable distribution of wealth. The Members
of Congress also stressed the need to intensify reconciliation
efforts in order to facilitate the return of internally displaced
persons. Mwakwere, who was one of the PNU's hardliners during the
crisis, admitted that "we were living in a fool's paradise ignoring
fundamental problems, but we realized we had to work together to
save the country. Even we are surprised by how well we are emerging
from the crisis," Mwakwere said. "Kenya is on the right track now."
During his meetings on the Hill, Odinga strongly and repeatedly
praised the U.S. for the decisive role it played in helping Kenya
resolve its crisis. Members of Congress were very positive regarding
the role the U.S. played.
Odinga's Policy Addresses
13. (U) In addition to press interviews, Odinga made two major
public statements during an address to CSIS and at a lunch sponsored
by Coca Cola. Septel reports text of Odinga's speech at CSIS.
During these public remarks Odinga strongly praised the decisive
role the U.S. played to resolve the Kenyan crisis, and stressed the
commitment he and President Kibaki share to make the coalition
government work and to achieve results. The Prime Minister said
Kenya's stability before the crisis masked smoldering grievances,
particularly with respect to land problems and inequitable
distribution of wealth. These manifested themselves through
inter-ethnic violence, much of it carried out by unemployed youth.
He emphasized the need to revise the constitution to limit the
powers of the presidency and to provide for effective checks and
balances. He also highlighted the importance of the coalition
government acting in a transparent and accountable way in order to
build credibility with the Kenyan people. "We must work to
re-establish the social fabric by dealing with longstanding
grievances," Odinga stated. "Kibaki and I are determined to lead a
partnership," Odinga said. Odinga underscored his desire to further
expand the U.S.-Kenyan partnership, particularly by attracting more
U.S. investment. In that regard, Odinga was guest of honor at a
well-attended dinner hosted by the Corporate Council on Africa
(CCA). The CCA indicated that Kenya is one of the four countries it
is targeting in Africa for expanded engagement.
Meeting with Kenyan Diaspora
14. (U) During his visit Odinga met with several hundred
representatives of the Kenyan diaspora at an event facilitated by
George Washington University. At the request of the diaspora
representatives, the Ambassador made brief remarks and accepted a
vote of thanks for the role the U.S. played to resolve the crisis.
Odinga talked in moving terms about the need to foster "unity in
diversity." He reassured the diaspora that he and Kibaki are
working together closely and well, and that the government is moving
ahead on the institutional reform agenda. In a theme that he echoed
elsewhere, Odinga appealed to the diaspora to become more engaged in
helping Kenya. He indicated that he is establishing an office
within the Prime Minister's office to engage with the diaspora.
Positive Reaction to the Visit
15. (U) Reaction in Kenya both during and after Odinga's visit was
extremely positive. The visit was covered extensively in the Kenya
media, which emphasized the tangible results from the visit.
Reaction focused on U.S. engagement to support the coalition
government and to strengthen the Prime Minister's role to coordinate
and supervise the functions of government. The fact that the visit
to the U.S. was Odinga's first official visit outside of Kenya as
Prime Minister highlighted the coalition government's recognition of
the unique and decisive role the U.S. played to help resolve the
crisis. Importantly, when the Ambassador informed President Kibaki
in May about the planned Odinga visit, the President without
hesitation replied "good, that's useful and the right thing to do."
The coalition government and the Kenyan people continue to look to
the U.S. as the principal player to keep post-crisis Kenya on