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Cablegate: Kenya Elections: Coast Running 60/40


DE RUEHNR #4402/01 3111333
R 071333Z NOV 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary: PolCouns' travels in Coast Province
indicate that the coastal strip is strongly pro-Raila Odinga
and his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). The interior of
the province is much less committed, with the President's
Party of National Unity (PNU) coalition better represented.
The Coast accounts for about five percent of projected voters
(registered voters multiplied by traditional turnout rate).
Ethnic Kambas have significant communities in Mombasa, Kwale
and Taita/Taveta districts. They back ODM-Kenya presidential
candidate Kalonzo Musyoka. While the electorate remains
volatile, 60 percent pro-opposition support (ODM & ODM-K) to
40 percent pro-government support is a good estimate for
Coast Province at this point. End Summary.

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Mombasa: Cosmopolitan Coast Capital Favors ODM
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (SBU) Cosmopolitan Mombasa has significant support for
both opposition parties (Raila Odinga's ODM & Kalonzo
Musyoka's ODM-K) as well as President Kibaki's PNU coalition.
The majority of residents appear to support ODM, largely due
to the coast's traditional attachment to the idea of
decentralization, which ODM supports and PNU opposes.

3. (SBU) A major component of PNU on the coast is the
Shirikisho party, which, unusual for a Kenyan political
party, has a strong policy orientation. Shirikisho was
founded to promote the "majimbo" concept of decentralized
governance (reftel). Kibaki and his PNU are outspokenly
anti-majimbo, causing severe discomfit for their Shirikisho
allies. Shirikisho leaders are having difficulty maintaining
the support of rank and file members, who accuse their
leaders of selling out Shirikisho principles. Kibaki's
Minister of State for National Heritage, Suleiman Shakombo, a
Shirikisho leader, confessed to PolCouns that his reelection
to parliament from his Mombasa constituency was in doubt due
to his unpopular alliance with Kibaki and the PNU.

4. (SBU) Shakombo insisted, "Raila's and Kalonzo's talk about
'majimbo' is not serious. We can convince Kibaki to give the
coast what is owed to us. Raila will take our votes and then
forget us." Shakombo listed the coast's grievances in much
the same terms as do ODM-supporters: "Mombasa is the
country's second greatest source of tax revenue after
Nairobi. But very little of that money comes back to us.
Where are our roads and other infrastructure? Tourists will
stop coming and spending here if the coast gets more and more
run down. Nairobi is starving the cow that produces milk for
the whole country." On the controversial land issue, a
highly emotive subject on the coastal strip, Shakombo again
sounded much like ODM-supporters on the coast: "We will
peacefully accept what occurred in the past, all the land
stolen from us by Kenyatta and Moi. But now we need a new
deal. Why shouldn't coastal people own beach property? It
is not right that all our prime land is in the hands of
upcountry people." (Note: 'Upcountry people' is standard
coast code for Kenyans from the interior, especially Kikuyus.
End Note.)

5. (SBU) An ethnic Mijikenda ODM-supporter in Mombasa frankly
expressed anti-Luo sentiments, despite his backing of
ethnic-Luo Raila Odinga, the ODM Presidential candidate. "In
2002 we used Kibaki and his Kikuyus to tame Moi and his
Kalenjins when they stayed too long and grabbed too much.
This year we will use Raila and his Luos to tame Kibaki and
his Kikuyus for grabbing too much and treating everyone else
with disrespect. The Luos are not civilized like we
coastals, but they can help us get what we want." (Note:
The largest ethnic group on the coast are the Mijikenda, a
group of nine Bantu communities. They tend to share the
widespread Bantu distaste for Nilotic (especially Luo)
cultural practices and traditions. End Note.)

6. (SBU) PolCouns did not detect a Christian/Muslim divide in
Mombasa political sympathies. Coast province is evenly
split between the two faiths, while Mombasa is 60/40 Muslim.
Coast natives in Mombasa, whether Christian or Muslim, tend

to be pro-ODM. Kamba residents tend to be pro-ODM-K. Other
'upcountry' Mombasa residents tend to be pro-PNU (although
some Luhya tourist industry workers line up behind ODM).

Tana River District: Preoccupied by Feuding

7. (SBU) The poor and remote Tana River District has not yet
caught election fever. Residents are more concerned about
chronic, violent ethnic strife among the agricultural (Bantu)
Pokomo and the pastoralist (Cushitic) Somali, Orma and Walde
peoples, and among the pastoralists themselves. Of the
district's three parliamentary constituencies, two are
considered lightly pro-ODM and one is considered heavily
pro-PNU. In each case, this is a function of an individual
leaders' political alliances rather than voter commitment to
a particular party. The land and resources debate does not
feature in the interior in the same manner as it does on the
coastal strip. However, fierce competition over land between
farmers and herders, and among herders for water and prime
pasturage, is a constant for this region. These divisions
may develop into rival political camps, with violent
implications. In general, herders tend to support ODM and
farmers tend to support PNU. However, the picture is
complicated by some pastoralist leaders' traditional
adherence to KANU, which is now a PNU affiliate. The concept
of the PNU coalition is not well understood in the area.
Orma herders loyal to a KANU politician expressed puzzlement
to PolCouns about how they could be on the same side as
Pokomo farmers.

North Coast: "Whose Side Are We On? We Have No Idea!"
--------------------------------------------- ---------

8. (SBU) Political discussions in the Giriama country (one of
the larger Mijikenda groups, predominately Christian and/or
traditional) revealed a great deal of confusion. This
coastal area to the North of Malindi is a hotbed of
pro-majimbo (decentralization) sympathies. A meeting with
the local PNU coordinator in Magarini included bitter remarks
about "exploitation by upcountry people," and confusion about
her Shirikisho party's participation in the PNU coalition.
"We read in the papers that the President is against majimbo,
but our leaders tell us he is really for it and we should do
as they say. We do not understand. But Raila will have a
rally here next week and he will explain all to us." Again,
this expression of longing for the advent of opposition
leader Raila Odinga was coming from the local coordinator of
the President's coalition party. PNU has a lot of work to do
on the north coast reconciling its anti-majimbo position with
the pro-majimbo sympathies of the members of its local
coalition partner, Shirikisho. In fact, the second strata of
Shirikisho leaders recently announced to the press that
Shirikisho was pulling out of PNU, only to have their leaders
denounce them and insist on adherence to PNU, inspiring much
grumbling from the membership.

On The Road to Voi: Voter Card Buying Operation
--------------------------------------------- ---

9. (SBU) At a gasoline station in the town of Mariakani,
about an hour drive northwest of Mombasa, PolCouns witnessed
individuals casually buying up voter cards from this pro-ODM
area. Mariakani is situated on the border of Kwale (south
coast) and Kilifi (north coast) districts. When asked about
the gentlemen with the clipboards and satchels sitting at an
outside table in the snack bar receiving a stream of
visitors, a pump attendant explained that they were buying
voter identification cards from agents that were transacting
business in the rural areas of the two districts. While at
the station, PolCouns witnessed envelopes exchange hands.
The attendant explaned that the agents go to remote rural
areas and explain that the government was paying a reward for
those citizens who had showed civic virtue by registering to
vote. They then asked for the cards as a receipt for the
money paid, telling the would-be voters: "your name is
already on the voter rolls and you have your national
identification card, so you do not need the voter
identification card." In fact, both cards must be presented

on the day of the vote. This tactic removes from play voters
thought likely to support the other side. The attendant
identified the individuals transacting this business as local
Government of Kenya officials and PNU activists.

Taita/Taveta: Personalities Rule, Not Issues

10. (SBU) The Taita/Taveta region of Coast Province is
traditionally considered more in tune with upcountry politics
than coast politics. The area includes the Tsavo wildlife
parks and huge sisal plantations. The Taita and Taveta
peoples are found in both Tanzania and Kenya. Many Kambas
from neighboring Eastern Province have moved into the area,
along with the usual Kikuyu shopkeepers and professionals.

11. (SBU) The ODM office in Voi was staffed by a professional
cadre of political operators drawn from the area. They spoke
eloquently of ODM campaign themes and alleged that the local
administration tilted strongly in favor of PNU. (Throughout
his Coast travels, PolCouns found District Commissioners and
District Officers consistently away from the office,
"monitoring political events." This was not the case in past
trips.) When PolCouns asked about ODM supporters making
dangerously inflammatory statements castigating the Kikuyu,
the ODM coordinator said they had just disciplined one of
their parliamentary aspirants for using abusive language in
that regard, "since that sort of thing is forbidden in the
campaign book." On inspection, "the campaign book" turned
out to be a campaign manual printed by the African National
Congress for use in South Africa. The ODM coordinator
averred that the ANC manual was used throughout Kenya by ODM

12. (SBU) ODM-K did not have an office in Voi. The ODM-K
coordinator worked out of his internet cafe. ODM-K activists
also alleged pro-PNU bias by the local administration, but
emphasized that "these days people don't do whatever the
district officer or chief tells them to do. Under the
British, Kenyatta and Moi, people were terrified of district
officials. They had the power of life and death. These days
they don't have so much authority. Some of the chiefs speak
in favor of PNU in the presence of the district officer and
then, once he leaves, tell their people to vote for the

13. (SBU) PNU's Voi operation was in a shambles: no PNU
office and the constituent members of the PNU coalition were
opposed to one other. The PNU district coordinator had just
quit over a dispute with Nairobi PNU officials on the
disappearance of campaign funds slated for the district. An
ally of the former PNU coordinator told us that the Nairobi
PNU officials delivering funds to the district campaign
committee "claimed to have 'consumed' 200,000 Kenyan
Shillings staying in a hotel for one night. The hotel
charges 1,200 shillings a night for a room! How is that
possible to spend so much!") The PNU Youth Wing leaders
(former KANU Youth) told PolCouns that they were so disgusted
with the corruption of Nairobi PNU officials that they were
prepared to sell their "mobilization services" to the
opposition. Despite PNU disarray, PolCouns found a fair
amount of support for Kibaki in Voi town, whose population
includes civil servants, merchants and shopkeepers from
outside the district. A number of pro-Kibaki voters in Voi
expressed an intention to split their ballot: voting Kibaki
for President and supporting a popular local ODM candidate
for parliament.

14. (SBU) Outside Voi, the population of the surrounding
district was focused on individual local leaders, adopting
their party and presidential preferences as their own. While
the majority of the population is either Taita or Taveta (the
two indigenous Bantu communities), the area attracts
plantation workers from throughout the country (mostly
Kambas, Maasai, Luhyas and Luos). In a constituency
bordering Tanzania, one knowledgeable observer predicted 80
percent support for the likely ODM candidate and 20 percent
support (the Kamba vote) for the ODM-K candidate, with
negligible support for the PNU incumbent.

Comment: 60/40 Pro-Opposition on Coast, But Many Can Be Swayed
--------------------------------------------- -----------------

15. (SBU) The prevailing sentiment on the coast is
pro-opposition, especially pro-ODM. However, Kibaki has a
significant following in Coast Province and has activated the
provincial administration to bring to bear on his behalf the
carrots and sticks available to an incumbent. On the
opposition side, some irresponsible elements within ODM seem
prepared to push the populist version of majimbo to the point
of threatening social peace. Coast Province only accounts
for about five percent of likely voters, but in an
anticipated close election, it could make a difference.

16. (SBU) We are expressing concerns about neutrality of the
administration, vote card buying and inflammatory rhetoric to
the Electoral Commission Chairman, political party
leaderships and relevant government officials. If not
addressed, we are prepared to comment publicly on these
concerns, possibly in league with other major electoral
process donors.

© Scoop Media

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