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Cablegate: Kenya Elections: Internal Security Minister

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NAIROBI 003993

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/09/2017
TAGS: KDEM PGOV PHUM KE
SUBJECT: KENYA ELECTIONS: INTERNAL SECURITY MINISTER
MICHUKI ON ELECTIONS


Classified By: PolCouns Larry Andre for reasons 1.4 B & D.

1. (C) Summary and Introduction: On October 8, the Political
Counselor met with Minister of State for Internal Security
John Michuki over lunch at Michuki's swank hotel and country
club on the outskirts of Nairobi. PolCouns had planned to
have lunch with Michuki's son Francis when Michuki
unexpectedly joined the discussion. Michuki, who is a close
associate of President Kibaki, made a point to disparage
Presidential challenger Raila Odinga, but was otherwise
unusually relaxed, philosophical, and somewhat detached. He
gave the impression of being much more interested in the
state of his golf links than the state of the nation. This is
in high contrast to his usually engaged and combative stance.
Although he is historically close to Kibaki, Michuki is one
of several prominent Kikuyus in the cabinet who have been
conspicuously excluded from the new Party of National Unity
(PNU) campaign leadership, and is strongly associated with
Kikuyu tribal interests. End Summary and Introduction.

ODINGA THE DICTATOR

2. (C) Not surprisingly for a Kibaki loyalist, Michuki
trotted out a laundry list of anti-Odinga propaganda. He
warned that Odinga, if elected, would behave like a dictator
and build a Moi-style cult of personality. Michuki reminded
PolCouns of Odinga's studies in East Germany, alleging that
his undergraduate thesis had been on building nail bombs.
Michuki claimed that the Odinga family (note: Odinga's
father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, was a leading figure in the
struggle for Kenyan independence, the country's first vice
president, and later an opposition leader) has long harbored
a scheme to create a "Greater Luoland" in western Kenya,
uniting Luo-speaking peoples of Kenya, Uganda, and southern
Sudan. He noted the close ties between former Ugandan
President Milton Obote and the Odinga clan, adding that
Odinga would create an oppressive Obote-style regime.

3. (C) Michuki claimed that Odinga will say whatever he
thinks will make him popular without thinking about the
consequences, including telling Luos in Nairobi's Kibera slum
not to pay rent to their Muslim landlords. Michuki claimed
that Odinga would feel compelled to avenge the murders of
slain Luos Tom Mboya, an independence-era leader believed to
have been killed by a Kikuyu, and Robert Ouko, a Moi-era
foreign minister believed to have been murdered by Kalenjin
Nicholas Biwott. (Note: Since the Kalenjin community has a
traditionally antagonistic relationship with the Kikuyu and
is currently largely backing Odinga, it is not entirely
logical to suppose that Odinga would seek revenge against the
Kalenjin.) Odinga would be pressured to avenge these deaths
not only against the individual perpetrators, but against
entire communities, said Michuki, setting off wider ethnic
violence and possibly leading to a retaliatory attempt on
Odinga's life. An Odinga presidency would be ethnically
divisive and short-lived, said Michuki, who added that he did
not think Odinga would last more than a few months in office.
Given Kenya's history of high-profile political
assassinations, this is not such a remote possibility.

THE KIBAKI CAMPAIGN

4. (C) Michuki admitted that the Kibaki campaign lacked
internal discipline, tolerated too much infighting and was
not staying on message. Kibaki is too loyal to those on his
team, he added, even when their words and actions harm his
political goals. Michuki conceded that both sides have some
"bad characters" in their camps, but insisted that the
Odinga-affiliated group, including William Ruto, Wycliffe
Mudavadi, Cyrus Jirongo, Sally Kosgei and Fred Gumo, includes
far more corrupt and criminal individuals. Michuki said that
Kibaki is a peaceful man who is willing to retire gracefully
if he loses and would not seek to use violence to secure
victory. Michuki said that, in his role as Minister of State
for Internal Security, he was committed to punishing
political violence, regardless of who may be responsible for
it. (Note: Michuki oversees all the police forces in Kenya
and is charged with maintaining law and order.) Michuki
believed that the recent surge in support for Odinga is a

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temporary one, and that when voters go to the polls, they
will remember all that Kibaki has achieved and has done for
them over the past five years. Michuki also defended Kibaki's
record on attacking official corruption, saying that
prosecuting former President Moi would have been divisive,
sparking ethic conflict and undercutting progress, and
claiming that Kibaki's is a government focused on the future,
not the past.

POSTS FOR MUSYOKA, KOMBO

5. (C) Michuki noted that former Presidential hopeful Kalonzo
Musyoka, an ethnic Kamba, could not be offered the Vice
Presidency. The current Vice President, Moody Awori, is a
Luhya, and the Kibaki team would lose more in Luhya votes
than they would gain in Kamba votes by making the switch.
Michuki noted that Kibaki might instead create a new post
called "Chief Minister" for Musyoka to entice his support.
Michuki said that Musikari Kombo, a Luhya who is currently
serving as Minister for Local Government, would be offered
the VP post and the politically underperforming "Uncle Moody"
(the current Vice President, who failed to carry his own
constituency in the November 2005 constitutional referendum)
can move over to serve as Speaker of the House. Knowing our
low opinion of corrupt businessman Nicholas Biwott, Michuki
made a point of saying that Biwott would not be given a post
in a second Kibaki government, but that Gideon Moi, the
former president's son, would be. (Note: Biwott, one of the
richest men in Kenya, has been banned from travel to the
United States for corruption and has been linked to the
still-unsolved Ouko murder (see para 3 above); Moi is not
much better as he has been repeatedly implicated in
high-profile corruption cases linked to his father's regime.)

COMMENT

6. (C) Michuki's Odinga-bashing seemed perfunctory and
lacking in conviction. Much of the anti-Odinga rhetoric
seemed designed to bait us into taking an explicit stance
against Odinga based on his Cold War ties and socialist
roots. The aristocratic and wealthy Michuki no doubt has a
personal dislike for Odinga's populism, but he did not seem
to believe the propaganda completely even as he was trying to
convince us of its veracity. Overall, Michuki seemed worried
about Kibaki's prospects, but also proud of the
accomplishments of the last five years. We are aware of
Odinga's past and family ties, but we do not share Michuki's
view of Odinga as a dangerous radical who would destabilize
the region and undermine Kenya's economic progress. That
said, Luos (Odinga's ethnic group) have felt excluded from
power since independence and might aggressively assert their
newfound strength, especially in the first few months of the
new administration, possibly provoking considerable social
tension rather than creating an environment for inter-ethnic
cooperation and reconciliation. Considering regional voter
registration and turnout rates, we still see the race as too
close to call despite Odinga's current lead in the polls.


RANNEBERGER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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