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Cablegate: U.S. Support for Kenya's Electoral Process

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UNCLAS NAIROBI 004756

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV PREL KE
SUBJECT: U.S. Support for Kenya's Electoral Process

REF: NAIROBI 1669

1. (SBU) SUMMARY & INTRODUCTION: In the run up to Kenya's 27
December presidential and parliamentary elections, the USG is
heavily engaged to support a free and fair electoral process in
order to preserve, broaden and deepen Kenya?s democratic gains (see

also reftel). Given indications that the vote will be close and
potentially contentious, the US Mission is also acting in
conjunction with efforts by Kenya's vibrant press, civil society,
and credible electoral commission to discourage violence and
irregularities. END SUMMARY & INTRODUCTION.

UNDP Multi-Donor Election Assistance Program:
---------------------------------------------

2. (U) The United States is the largest donor to UNDP's $11.3
million comprehensive election assistance program, providing nearly

$3 million of funding. There are components of the program focused

on combating election-related violence, which include working with
the Electoral Commission of Kenya's (ECK) district-level Peace
Committees to receive early warning of potential conflicts and to
respond to incidents of violence. Other key elements of the program

include civic education, media training and monitoring of media
coverage, and enhancing the effectiveness of domestic observation
efforts. As USAID/Kenya's Democracy & Governance officer is the
lead coordinator for all/all donor related election activity, USAID

represents the donors on the joint ECK/Donor Steering Committee
managing this program.

Election Observers:
------------------

3. (U) The Mission is funding an international election observer
team headed by the International Republican Institute (IRI). The
team will have about 20 members, and will be headed by former
Assistant Secretary Constance Newman. This team will be
strategically deployed to high-profile locations and will coordinate

with other international observer missions being fielded by the EU
and the Commonwealth.

4. (U) In addition to the international team, we will field over 50

three-member teams of Mission observers (American and Kenyan staff).

Locations for deployment focus on election "hot spots" where we
anticipate the greatest potential for violence or other
irregularities as well as constituencies with viable women
candidates. As circumstances on the ground evolve, we can continue
to adjust our deployment strategy.

5. (U) As part of the Mission's election assistance program, we are

providing training and assistance to local NGOs who will be fielding

domestic observer teams. Training and assistance will be provided
via the UNDP program to the thirteen Kenyan local civil society
organizations that have formed the Kenyan Domestic Observers Forum
(KEDOF). KEDOF members will deploy observers to the field and are
monitoring issues related to violence and women's participation in
the political process.

Support to the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK):
--------------------------------------------- -----

6. (U) Developing the capacity of the Electoral Commission of Kenya

(ECK) lies at the heart of our strategy. The USG funded
International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) has been
providing support to the ECK since late 2001. Activities focus on
providing appropriate technology for more efficient and transparent

elections administration while improving the skills of the ECK
technical staff. This support additionally includes capacity
building and technical assistance to support election
administration. Technical assistance includes computerization of the
Procurement and Supplies Department, which is responsible for
printing and distributing election materials. Assistance will also

support implementation of the ECK's restructuring plan,
strengthening logistics capacity, and accelerating the transmission

and display of results.

Public Outreach and Advocacy:
----------------------------

7. (U) The Ambassador has made several high-profile speeches and
routinely appears on radio, television and the press to emphasize
the importance of ensuring that the democratic process in Kenya is
credible and free from violence, intimidation, and hate speech. As

described below, the Mission has reacted swiftly and publicly to
violence and intimidation directed towards women political
candidates. We have also reacted to other recent acts of political

violence in the same fashion and will continue to do so.

8. (U) In addition to regularly engaging the press and meeting with

civil society, we also continue to meet privately with senior
leadership of key parties and with individual candidates to urge
them to adhere to the election code of conduct and to speak out
against violence and hate speech. It is encouraging that President

Kibaki and challenger Raila Odinga each made very strong, non-
partisan statements this week about ending violence in Kuresoi. We

have also brought specific instances of electoral malpractice to the

attention of both camps. When speakers at a pro-Raila rally on the

coast used ethnically inflammatory language, we reported this to the

party leadership. When we observed provincial officials in a remote

area acting on behalf of the President's party in a blatantly
partisan manner, we reported that abuse both to party and government

officials. There have been other such interventions as well.

9. (U) On October 9, the Mission launched the anti-violence "Umoja

Pamoja" ('Oneness, Togetherness') campaign, which reached out to
youth with a concert by popular Kenyan performers and an original
song on the theme of unity and peaceful participation in politics.
The music video of the "Umoja Pamoja" song is being used as an
outreach tool and youth are encouraged to sign the accompanying
pledge of non-violence. The two-month program is working with up to

41 local NGO partners to conduct voter education in all 210
constituencies.

10. (U) On October 1, the Ambassador joined with more than 20 other

heads of mission in a joint statement emphasizing the diplomatic
community's neutral stance in Kenya's elections and the need for a
peaceful electoral process. The group also presented a statement of

electoral principles.

Promoting and Protecting Women Candidates
-----------------------------------------

11. (U) The Mission has been active in promoting the right of women

to run for public office. Unfortunately in Kenya, women candidates

for political party nominations have been attacked and/or
intimidated. In the wake of one such attack, the Ambassador visited

the victim at bedside and gave strongly worded remarks condemning
the attack and reaffirming the right of women (and of all Kenyans)
to stand for political office free of intimidation and violence. The

remarks were widely covered in the Kenyan media and generated public

censure of the attack (reftel B).

12. (U) The Mission is funding a political parties strengthening
program implemented by NDI. The program emphasizes the role of
women in Kenyan political parties and seeks to make party operations

more transparent so women can compete on a level playing field.
Over the past year, the program has also provided leadership
training for 204 women party members.

13. (U) At the community level, the Mission's efforts have
successflly increased women's participation in District Peace
Committees (DPCs) in North Eastern Province, previously an exclusive

male domain. While at the national level, the Mission's political
parties strengthening program encourages active participation of
women in decision making structures and procedures. To date, four
political parties receiving such assistance have developed
strategies on affirmative action for women.

14. (U) Against this backdrop, on December 10 we garnered
nationwide publicity for a summit of over 100 women MP candidates
who assembled at the Ambassador's residence to raise awareness for
prevention of violence and other issues surrounding women's
participation in Kenyan politics.

Public Opinion Polling:
-----------------------

15. (U) The Mission is funding national public opinion polling to
increase the availability of objective and reliable data and to
provide an independent source of verification of electoral outcomes

via exit polls. The implementing partner is IRI.

16. (SBU) In addition, we were concerned that other widely
published public opinion polls, which showed ODM's Raila Odinga well

ahead of President Kibaki, did not accurately reflect the true
status of the contest. Given the rising political temperature,
partially due to use of blatant ethnic appeals by both sides, we
were concerned about the reaction of ODM supporters should their
candidate lose in a close outcome when they were led by public
opinion polls to expect a landslide victory. The solution involved

quietly reaching out to polling firms and their clients to suggest
that poll sampling distribution should be based on the regional
distribution of registered voters, not on raw population. Today, the

major polling firms have all adjusted their sampling and limited
their responses to those who at least claim to be registered voters.


Strengthening Political Parties:
--------------------------------
17. (U) The Mission supports a political parties strengthening
program implemented by the National Democratic Institute. The
program emphasizes the role of women and youth in political
parties. In the past year alone, 204 women participated in

leadership training. We are confident that women will continue
to hold more prominent leadership positions, both given the
elections and the recently enacted Political Party Financing
Legislation and we will continue to support political parities
with an emphasis on the role women play in such organizations.
18. (U) Taken together these efforts make the U.S. a key player
in helping influence the electoral process in a constructive
direction.

RANNEBERGER

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