Cablegate: July 4 - Highlighting Bilateral Partnership and Democratic
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SUBJECT: JULY 4 - HIGHLIGHTING BILATERAL PARTNERSHIP AND DEMOCRATIC
1. The Mission used the July 4 reception to highlight the
U.S.-Kenyan partnership and to focus on shared democratic values.
(See text of Ambassador's remarks in paragraph 6.) These themes have
increasingly strong resonance with all sectors of Kenyan society and
politics. As a result, the turnout of well over 1,000 was the most
extensive and diverse seen in decades for a Mission function. The
event was extensively covered by the media. Though the cloudy day
threatened rain, the skies opened as if on cue for a brief period of
sunshine just as the formal ceremony concluded.
2. Vice President Awori attended along with Minister of Security
Michuki, and a number of other ministers. Former President Moi
attended. All the senior opposition leaders - led by Raila Odinga,
Kalonzo Musyoka, Uhuru Kenyatta, and Musalia Mudavadi -- attended.
Kenya's most prominent representative of civil society, Nobel Prize
Winner Wangari Maathai, was also there.
3. The attendance at any national day reception -- or even official
Kenyan national functions -- by such an inclusive group was
unprecedented in Kenya. During the course of the reception all of
these participants talked together extensively. A couple of the
opposition leaders even met in the Ambassador's living room on the
margins of the reception and reported that they made some modest
progress on one of the issues related to the opposition Orange
Democratic Movement's efforts to select a consensus candidate.
4. Michuki, the minister designated as the government spokesman for
the event, warmly saluted the U.S.-Kenyan partnership as vital to
Kenya's well-being. He talked about shared interests, including
collaboration to fight terrorism. In comments clearly aimed at the
broader Kenyan audience through the media, Vice President Awori
spoke in Swahili to laud the U.S.-Kenyan partnership and to
emphasize the government's commitment to a non-violent, transparent,
and inclusive electoral process. Symbolic of this, Awori insisted
that Uhuru Kenyatta, the parliamentary leader of the opposition, and
Wangari Maathai, as a prominent civil society leader, join him, the
Ambassador, and Michuki on the dais. (The Ambassador in his remarks
noted to the gathering that it was presumably a good sign that while
the vice president made his remarks in Swahili, the leader of the
opposition quietly translated for the Ambassador.)
5. Kenyans at the reception commented very positively and
enthusiastically about the unprecedented presence of Moi, Awori, so
many ministers, and the opposition leaders. Though major
differences separate these personalities, they readily posed for
group photos, highlighting a broad show of unity in support of the
democratic process. Any number of prominent Kenyans noted that only
we could have pulled together such a group, and pointed out that
this underscores the key role that the U.S. should continue to play
in helping to keep the electoral process on track.
6. The text of the Ambassador's speech follows.
Celebration of the 231st Anniversary of the Independence of the
United States of America
Ambassador Michael E. Ranneberger
July 4, 2007
Honorable Minister, Ministers, Colleagues, Guests, and Friends:
I want to extend a very warm welcome to all of you who are here to
help us celebrate the 231st anniversary of the independence of the
United States of America. 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."
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" (people with similar goals will achieve more
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from very far).
During the past 231 years Americans have consolidated institutions
intended to ensure democratic government of, by, and for the people.
The progress we 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.
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. That diversity enriches and
strengthens our nations. The approach of elections in our two
countries provides a timely opportunity to reflect upon how we
strive to accommodate this diversity and, in so doing, to perfect
our democratic systems. Though Americans have had far more time to
build our democracy than Kenya has, we can truly say that neither
democratic system is perfect. In both countries we struggle to
fight corruption, to promote communal harmony, to foster security,
and to bring about gender equity.
Acutely aware of our own imperfections, we support the efforts of
the Kenyan people to address these difficult challenges, which we
also confront. The old Swahili saying that "kila mlango na ufunguo
wake" (every door has its own key) means that Kenyans have to solve
their problems in their own ways. The Kenyan people have made
remarkable progress in recent years, but the work of deepening and
broadening democracy and improving governance is never done. As a
reliable friend, we will continue to assist your efforts and to
support the positive momentum underway.
The United States and Kenya have much to learn from each other.
Drawing on our long experience with democracy, we seek to assist
Kenya to consolidate its democracy, most importantly this year
through inclusive, non-violent, and transparent elections. We hope
that there will be very broad participation in Kenya's elections in
a way that may, perhaps, inspire Americans, whose participation in
even national elections barely rises above fifty percent of
Americans and Kenyans also share a belief in the power of the
collective spirit, profoundly illustrated by both countries'
journeys to independence. I am struck by two Swahili sayings that
seem to capture, long before America was founded, a sense of this
faith in the will of the people. One says: Penye wengi pana Mungu
(Where there are many people, there God is). Another reads: Panapo
wengi hapaharibiki neno (where there are many, nothing goes wrong).
Ladies and gentlemen, we're many, and we trust that this gathering
Please join me in raising our glasses in a toast to the 231st
anniversary of the independence of the United States of America, and
to Kenya's democratic progress, to the rich partnership between the
United States and Kenya, and to the health of Presidents Kibaki and