Cablegate: Ambassadors Call On the Electoral Commission

DE RUEHNR #4435/01 3180443
R 140443Z NOV 07




E.O. 12958:N/A
SUBJECT: Ambassadors Call On the Electoral Commission


1. (SBU) Summary & Introduction: Electoral Commission of
Kenya (ECK) Chairman Samuel Kivuitu, Vice-Chair Kihara
Muttu, and four staff members met with Chiefs of Missions
from the UK, the United States, Canada, Sweden, and the
European Commission on 8 November to review preparations
for the 27 December general elections. The discussion
touched on issues of electoral violence, campaign abuses
and use of state resources, impunity, balance of media
coverage - particularly state media, inspection of the
voter registry, and Election Day logistical arrangements.
The US Mission has led those diplomatic missions donating
to the electoral effort in a coordinated campaign to
encourage ECK Chairman Kivuitu's re-appointment. End
Summary & Introduction.

2. (SBU) The ECK?s leading concern continues to be
violence, noting that since the 2005 referendum, ethnic
tensions had substantially increased. The ECK's
preparedness and ability to respond still seems weak.
The Chair noted that the previous Vice-Chair, whose term
was not renewed, led their internal Committee on this
issue, which has not been reconstituted. He then noted
that Committee is regularly meeting with a counterpart
Police Committee. According to the Chair, the Police say
they are prepared, but he is not convinced. He further
stated that the ECK works through local peace committees
and this year the plan is for those committees to be more
active. He admitted that while gender violence is of
particular concern, there are no particular or additional
plans to address it. The Vice-Chair noted that given its
importance, a senior female police officer has joined the
police committee. The Chair also noted that they are now
receiving intelligence reports of "hot spots" on the
ground and they are working with the police to develop
proactive approaches in such areas.

3. (SBU) The ECK Chair welcomed Ambassador Ranneberger's
suggestion to have candidates sign the Electoral Code of
Conduct in a public ceremony and stated that he would
work on this immediately after he receives the
Presidential Nomination papers.

4. (SBU) In addressing allegations of rigging,
particularly manipulation of the voter registry and
purchasing of voters cards, the Chair noted that more
specific information is needed for successful
investigations. After noting that he read the formal
complaint of presidential aspirant Raila Odinga, he was
fairly dismissive of it and said it lacked specifics that
could be investigated, and that the individual named in
the complaint was not an ECK employee. However, he
accepted that purchasing of voter cards was a continuing
problem in the country. It is a problem the ECK was keen
to address, but more information was needed for them to
do that. He referenced a complaint where a member of the
ODM leadership, Member of Parliament Najib Balala brought
400 voter ID cards to the District Electoral Commissioner
(DEC) on the Coast. They then investigated; it resulted
in the arrest of one woman, who is now assisting police
in investigations. He further noted, that the ECK will
still provide duplicate ID cards to individuals who sell
there cards, to deter such actions and allow people to

5. (U) The Chair mentioned two safeguards recently put
in place:

- Regulatory changes now provide for criminal sanctions
against Returning Officers and Presiding Officers who
report total elections results at polling stations that
exceed the number of registered voters for the stations.
Further, the ECK has the authority to nullify the results
of such polling stations.

- Returning Officers have been rotated so they no longer
serve in their home areas.

6. (U) At the end of the closed meeting, press was
invited in. In very brief remarks the Chair emphasized
that the Chiefs of Mission visiting the ECK represented
true friends of Kenya and countries that were proving
morale and finance support for the elections.

7. (SBU) Comment: The US Mission has led those
diplomatic missions providing assistance for the
electoral effort in a coordinated campaign to encourage
ECK Chairman Kivuitu's re-appointment. Given the high
number of inexperienced, newly appointed commissioners,
it is crucial that experienced, competent and committed
Kivuitu remain at the helm of ECK.

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