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Cablegate: Kenya Election: Western Province Primaries

VZCZCXRO5438
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHNR #4567/01 3301418
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261418Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3621
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM 5595
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 1689
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 9706
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2405
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI 4932

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 NAIROBI 004567

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/E
LONDON, PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER

E.O.12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KE
SUBJECT: Kenya Election: Western Province Primaries

REF: NAIROBI 4258 and previous

Summary and Introduction
------------------------
1. (SBU) The U.S. Mission sent 20 observation teams
across Kenya to cover the party nomination process on
November 16. To a team, our observers reported that all
three major parties (ODM, PNU and ODM-K) often failed or
refused to supply proper ballots or, often, any ballots
at all. Reports of vote buying, rampant disorganization,
violence and voter intimidation were common place; so
too, however, were stories of an incredibly dedicated and
patient electorate who frequently beat a stacked deck to
bring down one incumbent MP after another. The snapshot
below, from our team covering the southern region of
Western Province, is illustrative of what we saw
nationwide during Kenya's tumultuous party nominations
process. Note that in future, party primaries will be
conducted by the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) due
to recent political reform legislation. The ECK has a
credible record of administering elections. The parties
do not. The misadventures reported here are NOT
predictive of the ECK-administered general election
scheduled for 27 December.

Ballots, Boxes, Trees, and Voters
---------------------------------
2. (SBU) An Embassy team spent November 16 in Western
Province observing party nomination polling stations in
four constituencies: Funyula, Budalangi, Amagoro, and
Nambale. At play here and throughout the country were
parliamentary and local government candidacies for all
three major political parties and many of the minor ones
as well (some smaller parties held nomination exercises
the day before). The team's observations were one part
of the Embassy's country-wide 20 team observation mission
and are representative of many of the challenges faced in
making political party-administered elections work
throughout Kenya. A comprehensive look at the
nominations process is being reported septel.

3. (SBU) Polling on November 16 was scheduled to start as
early as 6:30 a.m., but most polling stations had no
ballot papers or boxes as the day began. Some ballot
papers in some polling stations began to arrive by mid-
morning, others came in the early afternoon. Some ballot
papers for local ward nominations never arrived at all.
When ballot papers arrived, the number was often
insufficient to accommodate voters. Some polling
stations used transparent Tupperware as their balloting
boxes. Others used large, opaque, yellow plastic jugs.
The team saw polling stations in schools, churches, and
under trees.

4. (SBU) The constituencies visited were in areas where
the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) was
strong, and the vast majority of polling stations
observed were for ODM candidates. (Note: All twenty
teams observed in party strongholds precisely because
these areas were identified as the most potentially
explosive, the nomination winners being virtually
guaranteed victory in the general election this December.
End note.) Crowds at ODM polling stations were large and
peaceful. The team saw a number of polling stations
where 100 or more voters waited patiently -- sometimes
for hours and hours -- until ballot papers appeared.
Many voters' choices were not anonymous, and therefore
vulnerable to outside influence. Voters at one polling
station were taken aside by the presiding officer and
asked who they wanted to vote for. After receiving an
answer, the presiding officer would call over the
candidate's agent, who would fill out the ballot.

Police: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly
------------------------------------
5. (SBU) Police were out in force throughout the day.
Some, like the administrative police in Amagoro
constituency, were proactive and helpful, stopping in
polling stations and asking if there were any problems.
Others, like those in Budalangi constituency, appeared to
be complicit with elements of the local party machinery
and favored aspirants, stalling the process and
intimidating rival aspirants. One ODM presiding officer

NAIROBI 00004567 002 OF 003


said that police had disrupted a political rally with
tear gas the night before and that the car carrying their
ballot papers had just been carjacked at a nearby bridge.
The presiding officer said there was no point in
notifying police about the carjacking, as they suspected
police were involved.

6. (SBU) The team later encountered three trucks carrying
police at a road intersection at the Budalangi/Funyula
border. The officials rapidly dispersed in their
vehicles as the team approached to talk. The team later
witnessed one of the trucks stop an oncoming car, pull
the two occupants out of the vehicle, throw them to the
ground, search them and their vehicle, strike them with
sticks, and force them to remove their clothes. The
Kenyan members of the observation team recognized one of
the men as ODM candidate Ababu Namwamba. (Note: Namwamba,
a lawyer, was considered the front-running ODM candidate
- a threat to incumbent FORD-Kenya MP and Assistant
Minister for Water Raphael Wanjala. Namwamba won his
primary that day and will face Wanjala at the polls in
December. End Note.)

Rigging? The Vice President and the Incumbent
---------------------------------------------
7. (SBU) The Party of National Unity (PNU) -- a new
coalition of parties supporting President Kibaki -- had
trouble holding their alliance together for the
nomination process. Vice President Moody Awori received
a direct PNU nomination for Funyula constituency only two
days ahead of the polls, which surprised fellow PNU
member and MP aspirant Chrispinus Wafula Mugwanga, who
had intended to run against him. Mugwanga, a FORD-Kenya
member, protested the direct nomination with his party
headquarters, and said that he will stand as a FORD-Kenya
MP candidate in December against Moody, who he said
should not be allowed to run under the unified PNU
banner.

8. (SBU) The only reports of poll-related violence in the
team's four constituencies came from Amagoro, where
supporters of ODM MP aspirant Albert Aggrey Ekirapa beat
supporters of ODM MP incumbent Sospeter Ojaamong at a
polling station. According to ODM coordinator Steven
Otwana, one of the victims was reported to be critically
injured. Otwana said that the Ekirapa supporters did not
want Ojaamong to be allowed to compete in northern
Amagoro, where support for Ekirapa was strong.

9. (SBU) Ekirapa supporters admitted to beating an
Ojaamong supporter, but accused Ojaamong of manning
polling stations with his supporters, making fake ODM
ballot papers, and using his agents to fill in fraudulent
ballots for Ojaamong. ODM ballots for Amagoro
constituency were not tallied in Amagoro as planned
because of the violence. The team learned about the
last-minute change from a presiding officer whose polling
station voted for Ojaamong by hundreds of votes, and it
is likely that northern Amagoro polling stations did not
receive the word, as the returning officer's cell phone
was turned off. Ojaamong was declared as the primary
winner.

The Results: Incumbents Out, Big Races Set for December
--------------------------------------------- ----------
10. (SBU) Perhaps the biggest story of the primaries was
the early defeat of incumbent Members of Parliament
(MPs). In Western Province, five of the province's 24
incumbent MPs, including two close allies of ODM Vice
Presidential candidate Musalia Mudavadi, lost their
primaries.

11. (SBU) After his controversial direct nomination, Vice
President Awori will face a stiff challenge in the
December general elections by the victorious ODM
candidate, Dr. Paul Otuoma. Police arrested Otuoma
earlier in the week on what many consider trumped-up
murder charges. (Note: Otuoma, who is considered the Vice
President's strongest potential rival, claimed that the
case was an attempt to prevent him from running against
the Vice President. End Note.) When Otuoma appeared in
court on November 16, he was released on bond and he
easily won the ODM nomination later that day.

NAIROBI 00004567 003 OF 003

12. (SBU) Comment: The observation team's most enduring
impression was the large crowds of Kenyan voters who
waited patiently -- sometimes for hours -- to exercise
their right to vote. Despite numerous procedural
irregularities and examples of blatant government-
sponsored and/or local party machinery-sponsored
intimidation, the results speak for themselves:
intimidation did not prevent strong candidates from
winning, and election officials found innovative, good
faith ways to allow polling to proceed in spite of late
and insufficient materials. The early defeat of
incumbent MPs showed that attempted rigging by incumbents
was not entirely successful and the victory of strong
opposition candidates in key districts will make for a
fierce contest in December.

RANNEBERGER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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