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Cablegate: Ambassador Highlights Need to Combat Violence Against


DE RUEHNR #3675/01 2601350
P 171350Z SEP 07






E.O. 12958: N/A

1. A week ago, Flora Tera, a woman who is competing in Meru in
central Kenya to be the candidate for Parliament for a
pro-government party, was severely beaten by a gang of thugs. The
circumstances make clear that the gang deliberately sought to
intimidate her from campaigning. Her leg was broken, a back disk
was fractured, and she was forced to eat excrement smeared into her
hair. The gang made clear to her that they were not there to rob
her. This incident appears to have been a follow-up to an attack
one week before during which she was burned with cigarettes.

2. Tera is competing against David Mwiraria, the former Minister of
Finance who resigned from that position in February 2006 amid public
revelations that he was involved in the cover-up of the infamous
Anglo-Leasing corruption cases. A close personal friend of
President Mwai Kibaki, he was brought back into Cabinet as Minister
for Environment in July 2007. Tera poses a serious challenge to
Mwiraria because her family has substantial resources to back her
campaign. While it is by no means clear that Mwiraria orchestrated
this attack, at a minimum it was overzealous action by supporters.

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3. Unfortunately, violence against women political candidates is
widespread in Kenya, and has been so for many years. The U.S.
Mission is active in the fight against such violence through an
array of programs, including through USAID, electoral assistance
programs, and public outreach.

4. On September 12, the Ambassador visited Tera in the hospital.
She welcomed the visit and specifically asked that media accompany
the Ambassador. She is defiant and has vowed to continue her
campaign. The bedside visit was extensively covered by the media.
The Ambassador strongly denounced such violence and made clear that
there must be zero tolerance for election-related violence. He
called on government leaders, including the President, and
politicians across the spectrum to denounce the violence. He urged
rapid action to investigate the incident and to bring the
perpetrators to justice. The Ambassador also indicated that he will
follow up during a previously planned visit to Meru the week of
September 16.

5. Interestingly, when he learned of the Ambassador's visit,
Mwiraria rushed to the hospital, arriving just as the Ambassador was
leaving Tera's room. He elbowed his way into the room just as the
Ambassador was concluding his visit to Tera. He subsequently
appeared downstairs just as the Ambassador was finishing his press
conference. When he sat down next to the Ambassador, the Ambassador
told the press that Mwiraria's presence provided a timely
opportunity to denounce the violence. Literally looking like a deer
caught in the headlights, Mwiraria made the obligatory statement
against violence, though not enthusiastically. Following the
Ambassador's visit, Tera was visited by a parade of politicians from
all major parties.

6. The Ambassador's visit received huge coverage on all local
radio stations. Most visibly, the two major, private TV stations
that evening devoted five minutes of their 30-minute news programs
to the event, which generated a lot of public censure and demands
for immediate investigation - to the point that the police
investigator in Meru was dispatched to take Ms. Tera's statement in
the hospital.

7. In a previously arranged program, the Ambassador will be
visiting Ms. Tera's constituency in Meru during a swing through the
Central Province, where he will ask further about the investigation
into this extraordinary - or perhaps all too ordinary - occurrence.

8. Begin text of Ambassador's remarks at the Nairobi Women's
Hospital on 09/12/2007:

I came here today because I read about what happened to this woman
candidate for Parliament, Flora Tera. What happened to her is
outrageous, it is shameful, it is unacceptable in a democratic
society. Period! I came here to make that clear and to express my
support for her to be a candidate for office. I did not come to
endorse her candidacy; I came to endorse her right to be a
candidate, and to be free from violence and intimidation. No one,
no women, no one at all should be subject to intimidation and
violence in an electoral campaign. Now when I spoke on the
elections in May, I laid out some principles that we thought should
be followed in order to have free and fair elections. One of those
principles was zero, zero tolerance for violence. That principle
has been violated, and I indicated that on partial problems I would
speak out. I said we would be strictly neutral, not favoring any
candidate, but we were not neutral on the process and that if there
were problems in the process, we would speak out, and so I am

speaking out today. In my view, the leaders of this government,
from the top down, and politicians of all stripes should be speaking
out to denounce what happened to this woman; in fact they should
have already done so. And if they don't speak out, then the Kenyan
people ought to be asking questions about why they are not.

The other point I would make, is that this incident must be
investigated thoroughly, it must be investigated quickly, and the
perpetrators must be brought to justice to make an example of people
who tried to intimidate others. In Kenya, I am still very positive
about the electoral process. I do believe it's going to be a
positive process. But in order for it to be truly, free and fair
and open, this kind of violence and intimidation has to be stopped
immediately and quickly. This is a point where people can rally;
they can use this tragic situation to ensure that it does not happen
again. Let me just say this is not an isolated case. I have met
with women parliamentarians and other women candidates for office
and I am afraid that this sort of intimidation and violence is not
isolated. This happens to be a case that has gotten lot of
publicity, but it is not the first this sort of thing has happened.
I have said that I consider the need to promote general equity of
very important step in building democracy in Kenya. Women must be
free to participate fully in the political and economic processes of
the country, they must be free of intimidation, we have to have the
rule of law. You cannot have democracy; you cannot have an open
electoral process without respect for the rule of law.

I am going to be going out to Meru and Embu on a previously planned
trip. This is a trip I planned over a month ago, but I will be
going up there and when I go up there I am going to be asking the
provincial commissioner that I am going to be asking the police
authorities what is the status of the investigation, have the
perpetrators been caught, and if so, why not? If there was ever a
case for urgent action should be taken it's this one, and any
reporter who wants to join me in that trip is welcome to join me
while I ask the questions, and wait for the response.

So, this is an opportunity, I did not invite the minister, but am
glad that he showed up, this is an opportunity for him to denounce
this violence in the strongest possible terms. I am personally
outraged by this, and on behalf of my government, I am outraged and
angry about it. We will be waiting to see what steps to take to
find the perpetrators. We will be waiting to see what the top
levels of this government have to say condemning this kind of

Now the other thing I want to add, is that in view of this violence,
we are going to be finding some extra assistance to provide for the
electoral process, which will be aimed at combating this sort of
violence and intimidation. We are still working out the details of
that, so I can't tell you precisely how much it will be, but I can
assure you, that we will be doing that, and we will continue to
follow the electoral process very, very closely.

Thank you.

End text.

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