Cablegate: Kenya Elections: Presidential Candidate

DE RUEHNR #4427/01 3171443
P 131443Z NOV 07






E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/12/2017
SUBJECT: KENYA ELECTIONS: Presidential Candidate
Kalonzo Musyoka on the Elections

NAIROBI 00004428 001.2 OF 002

Classified by PolCouns Larry Andre for reasons 1.4 B & D.

1. (C) Summary. Kalonzo Musyoka, one of the three
principal presidential candidates, recently laid out to
the Ambassador his campaign strategy and views on the
upcoming elections. The bottom line is that Musyoka
realizes he has no chance to win the election this round
and sees his campaign as a prelude to running again for
president in 2012 -- but at that time with support of the
dominant Kikuyu community. This means that Musyoka will
support President Kibaki if it looks like he will win the
election and be prepared to tilt the balance after the
election through participation in a coalition government.
End summary.

2. (U) At a private lunch with the Ambassador recently,
Kalonzo Musyoka, one of the three principal presidential
candidates (representing the Orange Democratic Movement
of Kenya - ODM-K), discussed his campaign and the
upcoming elections.

3. (C) Musyoka, who has consistently polled in either
single digits or barely above that, opened with his
version of the "hail mary pass." Musyoka expressed
concerns about the health of President Kibaki and the
negative impact on the electoral process should Kibaki
experience a health crisis before the elections. Musyoka
seriously suggested that President Bush should call
Kibaki to urge him to step aside. If Kibaki were to pull
out, Musyoka contended, he would receive much of the
support Kibaki had received (based on the traditional
close ties between Kibaki's Kikuyu community and
Musyoka's much smaller Kamba community).

4. (C) The Ambassador pressed Musyoka on his strategy
for the electoral campaign. Musyoka offered nothing
concrete, instead focusing on a litany of complaints
about Kibaki and the other main presidential aspirant,
Raila Odinga (ODM). He claimed that, if elected, Odinga
would become "another Chavez" because he was heavily
influenced by socialism during his studies as a teenager
in East Germany. He also argued that the election of
Odinga would lead to substantial instability fomented by
Kibaki's ethnic Kikuyu supporters. The youth, Musyoka
said, believe that an Odinga victory would be a
"revolution" (in the sense of dramatic action against
corruption and improvement in social services and other
areas) and will be impatient for results. Musyoka
condemned Odinga's rumored secret deal with the Muslim
community not to support strong anti-terrorism measures
if he were elected. Musyoka also echoed the claims of
many others that Odinga's touting of "majimbo-ism" is
irresponsible and dangerous because it is fanning
tribalist sentiments. (Note: In its populist version,
Majimbo-ism means extreme federalism verging on local
autonomy with ethnic exclusivism. Musyoka is campaigning
on a platform of "economic Majimbo," emphasizing fair
distribution of national resources, but not outright
federalism. Kibaki has publicly opposed majimbo, arguing
instead for a strong central government, but with
additional resources made available to the regions for
local priorities (soft devolution). END Note.)

5. (C) As the conversation developed, it became clear
that Musyoka sees himself in the pivotal role of
spoiler/kingmaker. Having broken with Odinga on bitter
terms, he sees no possibility of working with him. He
will focus on trying to beat Odinga in critical Rift
Valley Province. He believes that historic ties between
the Rift Valley's Kalenjin community and his Kamba
community will enable him to do so. (Note: Former
President Moi's armed forces chief of staff, a Kamba, was
instrumental in helping Moi, a Kalenjin, put down the
1982 attempted coup which Odinga reportedly supported.
End Note.)

6. (C) On the other hand, "Kibaki will need to form a
coalition government if he is elected, and I am ready to
participate," Musyoka declared. He then stated flatly
that Kenya would clearly be better off with Kibaki for
another five-year term, than with Odinga, as President.
Asked the possibility of switching to support Kibaki
before the elections, Musyoka replied that doing so would
amount to political suicide for him, a verdict we have
heard from others as well. However, when the Ambassador
raised the hypothetical scenario of Kibaki offering
Musyoka the promise of the vice president's slot if
elected, Musyoka did not deny that this could influence
him to shift to support of Kibaki before the elections.
(Note: While Musyoka can declare support for Kibaki at

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any time, he can only formally switch sides before
November 15, though this date has been postponed once and
may be again. By this date, each party must turn in its
presidential nomination papers to the Electoral
Commission in preparation for the printing of the
ballots. End Note.)

7. (C) Discussing a possible alliance with Kibaki led to
Musyoka's elaborating on his future political prospects.
Musyoka, who is 56, conceded that he is also focused on
mounting a presidential campaign for the 2012 elections.
He said that the heir apparent of the Kikuyu community -
Uhuru Kenyatta - has tentatively agreed to run as Vice
President on a 2012 Musyoka ticket. (Comment: Obtaining
this sort of Kikuyu support for 2012 would require
Musyoka to be supportive of Kibaki now - switching
support before the election, or tilting the balance in a
coalition government following the elections. If
Kenyatta has truly agreed to serve as Musyoka's running
mate in 2012, this would be due to a calculation that the
majority of the Kenyan electorate would not accept a
Kikuyu President (Kibaki) being followed immediately by
another Kikuyu President (Kenyatta), requiring Kenyatta
to bide his time during a Musyoka interregnum. End

8. (C) Comment. Though Musyoka presents himself as a
born-again Christian with the purest of political
intentions, keen observers see Musyoka as largely an
opportunist interested primarily in advancing his
political ambitions. Musyoka served under Moi and Kibaki
in ministerial positions. The traditionally close
Kikuyu-Kamba relationship and his antipathy towards
Odinga make almost inevitable some sort of accommodation
with the Kibaki camp. How Musyoka calibrates that will
depend on his reading of Kibaki's prospects for re-
election. He could still choose to shift support to
Kibaki before the ballots are printed, probably ensuring
a Kibaki win, but there remains very little time for him
to do so. He could stay in the race, but modulate his
campaign to position himself to support a coalition
government if it looks like Kibaki will win, but without
a stable parliamentary majority. On the other hand, he
could maintain a staunchly independent campaign and go
down to honorable defeat (and stay alive for 2012) if it
looks like Kibaki will lose. Though Musyoka is polished
and glib, some astute observers consider him an
intellectual lightweight. Thus far he has not presented
a credible national political agenda.


© Scoop Media

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