Cablegate: Text of Pm Odinga's Csis Speech
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SUBJECT: Text of PM Odinga's CSIS Speech
Summary and Text
1. (U) Below is the text of Prime Minster Odinga's June 17 speech at
the Center for Strategic International Studies. The speech was
delivered at CSIS' Statesman's Forum during Odinga's June visit to
Washington. End summary.
2. (U) Begin Text.
PRIME MINISTER RAILA ODINGA: Thank you. Thank you so much, Mr.
President, for those very, very kind words. He has said that he was
in Nairobi at the time when President Kenyatta died, the time when
Nairobi was referred to as the city in the sun, before it became
Nairobody. Well now, we really want to make it - take it back to the
way it used to be.
Let me begin by just introducing a few of my colleagues who have
been here this morning with me: Honorable Yusuf Haji, who is the
minister for defense, Kenya - Honorable Ali Mwakwere, who is the
minister for transport - Honorable Omingo Magara, assistant minister
for trade - Honorable George Thuo, one of the co-chief whips in
parliament - Honorable Jakoyo Madiwo, also a co-chief whip,
parliament - Ambassador Oginga Ogego - and of course, we have Mike
Ranneberger, who is the U.S. ambassador to Kenya.
I want to say that I am very pleased to have the opportunity to
address this very distinguished audience here. I should like to
begin by expressing, on behalf of the government and the people of
Kenya, our most sincere appreciation for the import and necessity of
role played by the United States of America in helping us to resolve
the problems that we have all of this year. Our especial thanks go
to the Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Assistant Secretary
of State Dr. Jendayi Frazer; Congressman Donald Payne who, as
chairman of the House Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa, led
the congressmen and women and senators in championing the cause of
democracy in Kenya; and Senator Feingold as well as the U.S.
Ambassador to Kenya, Mike Ranneberger.
These distinguished Americans, together with other members of the
international community, principally the United Kingdom, the
European Union, the United Nations, and the African Union, and
together with a mission team that was led by the former
Secretary-General of the U.N. Dr. Kofi Annan, together with the
retired President of the Republic of Tanzania Benjamin Mkapa and
Madam Graga Machel of South Africa, brokered a peace agreement in
Kenya that led to the signing of the nation accord on February 28th
this year, and the subsequent formation of the grand coalition
government in April, this year; actually, to be precise, on the 17th
of April this year. Today is the 17th of June, so the grand
coalition government in Kenya is exactly 60 days old today.
The soul-searching we went through on our journey to that point, the
sacrifices and compromises that had to be made, and the need to
address Kenya's sense of being wronged and the unresolved grievances
all made for a delicate balancing act. We had to make many
difficult, perhaps unpopular decisions along the way. In this, we
had the inestimable support of the civil society and the religious
groups, and of sections of the media. Most of all, we had the
patience and the hope of our fellow countrymen and women to sustain
us. In the end, Kenyans cried from the heart only for their beloved
country to be saved.
Following this peace agreement, a grand coalition government was
formed, as I've said. And this is a government that has pursued an
equal power-sharing between two political parties; that is the
Orange Democratic Movement, which I represent, and the Party of
National Unity, which is led by President Kibaki. The Orange
Democratic Movement, or the ODM, is the largest parliamentary party,
while the Party of National Unity is itself an alliance of several
other, smaller parties. A constitutional amendment, an act of
parliament subsequently entrenched the constitution, created the
post of the prime minister in the executive structure. The role of
the prime minister is the coordination and supervision of the
functions of government, including those of ministries. So in other
words, the prime minister has got executive powers.
With the formation of this new government, Kenya entered a period of
national transition and a coalition whose primary purpose is to
establish a constitutional land, legal, economic, and institutional
reforms of such depth that Kenyans and the world will never again
have to watch in horror as the nation finds itself nearly destroyed
by the kind of chaos which we experienced earlier this year. No
doubt you wondered, along with much of the rest of the world, how
Kenya, long known as an oasis of peace and stability in a region
plagued by a history of conflict, could in a matter of weeks launch
into an abyss of turbulence and mayhem normally as suited with
failed states. It made Kenya realize that they actually lived a lie,
that Kenya was an unstable nation. It used to be said that we are an
island of peace in a sea of turmoil, and they would side other
countries; they'd look at Rwanda, look at Uganda, look at Somalia,
look at Ethiopia, and so on and so forth. But they did not know that
what you are seeing was just a fagade, and that below it Kenya was
no different from these other states.
But for those of us who are constantly looking beneath that fagade,
popular dissent foiled by long-held land budgets that have never
been addressed, by revolt against perpetual poverty against regional
development disparities, and huge inequalities that characterize
Kenyan society, leaving more than half of the population without
adequate shelter, education, health care, social services, and
employment opportunities, was always simmering, only requiring a
trigger of sufficient magnitude to bring the people's latent anger
bubbling to the surface.
Spontaneous protests broke out immediately. The presidential
election results were announced via the nation's television screens.
The people's eyes had been glued on television screens for three
consecutive days. As the results had been announced, then all of a
sudden live broadcast was banned and therefore, no more
announcements were being made on the screens. But people there
waited until the electoral commission announced what were supposed
to be purported results.
The response the announcement engendered eventually grew into
something more besides, an expression of the people's deeply felt
anger, but all historical injustices. More than 1,500 people died in
the ensuing violence, many of them felled by police bullets, and
over 350,000 people fled their homes. In an orgy of pent-up emotion,
disparate need, hunger, and exhaustion, neighbor turned upon
neighbor. People who had lived peacefully for decades and who,
today, in the process of rehabilitation, are learning how to be
peaceful neighbors once again.
But the disputed presidential result was, in fact, only the final
act in a long drama surrounding the election. Central in this drama
was the role of the body that governed elections, the electoral
commission of Kenya or, as its known, ECK. One of the proposals in a
constitution of Kenya amendment bill that never saw the light of the
day, last year, before the elections, addressed the fundamental
issues regarding the formation of the electoral commission of Kenya;
issues that, had they been addressed earlier, would have averted the
kind of disaster that struck Kenya following last year's elections.
Key electoral areas that urgently require reform are the mode of
appointment of the electoral commissioners, the independence of the
electoral commission, and the source of the commission's funding.
Lack of recognition in these vital areas led to a situation where
the ECK, as it was composed last year, was not independent and was
not, therefore, constitutionally capable of being impartial. This
reform is a crucial component of the overhaul that is required
across Kenya's entire legislation.
And at the heart of this is a vein of need that runs through the
country's constitutional framework, in the addressing of the balance
of power, between the executive and all other arms of government,
including the judicial; the overwhelming need of a restructuring of
institutions of government in order to ensure transparency and
accountability in the public life, and result in good governance. A
slew of amendments over the four decades since independence has left
us with a patched constitution that invests in the excessive power
in determining the nation's life. Over the years, there have been
several amendments to the independent constitution which has removed
power from the periphery to the center, so that the institution of
the presidency has come to emasculate all other institutions of
governance. That is why one of the first promises of the grand
coalition government of Kenya is a new constitution by April of next
In the meantime, the travesty that recently blighted our nation must
be addressed, and part of a nation accord involves the establishment
of several commissions of inquiry into what went wrong. One of these
commissions is called the Kriegler commission, Kriegler that is led
by Justice Kriegler from South Africa. He's investigating
specifically the conduct of the electoral commission of Kenya, with
particular regard to the disputed presidential elections. Besides
seeing representations from the party's concerns, the Kriegler
commission is currently taking soundings across the country, from
Kenyans of all walks of life. A second commission is called the
Justice Waki (ph) commission, is investigating the post-election
violence, and a third commission, yet to be operationalized, will
the commission on truth, justice, and reconciliation.
Another important piece of legislation, that is a bill dealing with
money laundering, is about to be brought before parliament.
Terrorism and human rights violations are all matters of grave
importance. The Kenyan government has instituted an investigation
into allegations of torture in the Mount Elgon region, and the
report is to be delivered shortly. In Nairobi, we are about the mark
the 10th anniversary of the bombing of the U.S. embassy in our
capital city as a somber event that throws into sharp relief the
continuing need for international cooperation in this field.
And, as you know, there are very many Kenyans who lost their lives
in that incident. On the side of the economy, we have just this
month launched the Vision 2030 blueprint, a blueprint of our
nation's development that is anchored on three pillars and which has
taken us exactly a month since the swearing in of that other
government to come up with a blueprint because we had a coalition of
three major parties which have their own manifestos. There was a
need to set up a taskforce to harmonize these three manifestos into
one. But, last week, on Tuesday, we launched the blueprint and the
Vision 2030. And on Thursday, the first budget was read by the
minister for finance.
This blueprint rests on three pillars: the economic, social, and
political reform. And it's designed to facilitate Kenya's journey,
the second-world status, within the next 22 years. Medium-term
strategic plans for the coming five years are being coordinated by
my office. We aim to have an informal consultative group within the
nation of partners in the next two months and are planning a series
of investor conference, the first to take place in Nairobi in
September and others later in both the U.S. and also in Europe.
The office of the prime minister is crucial in laying the groundwork
for a better Kenya. The office itself is a new institution and
therefore requires capacity creation to ensure its effective
functioning. We are grateful to have received a pledge from his
Excellency, the U.S. ambassador to Kenya, of 500,000 U.S. dollars in
order to develop the capacity of the office to be able to coordinate
and serve with functions of the government including dealing with
issues such as corruption, inefficiency, justice, et cetera.
But, to do this, of course, the costs will be much higher. We
already find ourselves with a bloated cabinet that must be funded.
And people have actually criticized this cabinet. Many have
criticized, but it was an unavoidable result of the particular
multiparty that makes up President Kibaki's Party of National Unity.
Because of its size, it was decided that the cabinet would function
more efficiently if business were conducted primarily in committees.
Five of these committees have been formed, namely, one on
infrastructure, finance and administration, social services, and
productive sector and security. And, of those five committees, the
president shares one on security and I chair the other four, the
remaining four committees.
The electoral and social crisis we experienced has badly damaged our
economy. And our growth rate might sadly not reach early
expectations. It is projected that as a result of the post-election
crisis, the GDP growth will drop this year to 4.5 percent, from 7
percent of last year. The situation is made worse by the rapidly
rising cost of oil and the world food crisis. The crisis and
resulting insecurity and the disbursement of hundreds of thousands
of Kenyans meant many crops were not planted in time nor have the
rains been kind to us this year.
The result - we face a very difficult 12 months ahead. While trying
to ensure the safety and food security of our people, we also have
to deliver the promised institutional and constitutional reform. The
coalition government, in itself, is a new concept. It is for the
first time that on the African continent we have a grand coalition
government. So this is a pioneering experiment. It will demand many
decisions along the way that arise simply from the newness of its
own structure. It will require a supreme effort of coordination to
ensure transparency and accountability where none existed before. In
the midst of this, we must address urgent economic problems, taking
steps to limit inflation, to attract foreign investment, and to get
our foreign exchange annals such as tourism back on track.
It is a daunting agenda, but I'm optimistic of our success. The
people of Kenya have demonstrated their determination to pursue what
is right for this country through democratic means and through
holding their leaders to account. The people of America have done it
over and over again. We hope to take inspiration from the
experiences of our international partners. In doing so, President
Kibaki and I are aware that we cannot do everything overnight. It is
the nature of people to look for flaws and rifts and disagreements
and the extreme politicization of our media and of our people in
Kenya means that the contentious issues are bound to arise in a
coalition such as ours, embracing, as it does, so very many
different shades of opinion that must be harmonized by patience and
compromise, sometimes assume unwarranted magnitude.
It is vital for us and our development partners to understand that
President Kibaki and I are equally and similarly determined that,
together, as a partnership, we shall lead our nation forward to the
place where we all want to be. My appeal to you today is that you
remain strong partners of my country in our hour of its greatest
need. Americans on both sides of your political divide have proved
invaluable friends to Kenya and we hope whoever you elect as
president later this year will maintain a strong focus on Africa and
on Kenya, in particular.
Kenya and the U.S. have enjoyed a powerful relationship dating back
to many years. As the prime minister of Kenya, I am determined to
ensure that this relationship continues and is strengthened through
shared democratic and social values and through the development of a
vibrant partnership, all facilitated by the hand of friendship and
cooperation extended on both sides. We remember with fond nostalgia
the days when hundreds and thousands of Kenyans came to the United
States for studies in a program that was called "airlift," which was
spearheaded by the late President John F. Kennedy and the late
Thomas Joseph Mboya of Kenya.
So the USA has enjoyed a historical relationship with Kenya,
assisting Kenya to obtain its independence from colonialism and,
since then, we've enjoyed cordial relationship in economic and
social, cultural, and even security fields. We'd like to see these
relations strengthened and expanded. And as this new grand coalition
government - as I've said, this is an experiment; this is a first on
the African continent. No country in Africa has had a coalition
government. Africa is moving from a phase of single-party, no-party
military rules to democratic government. You will see the success in
other fields, the reversions in other places, but, generally, we are
moving forward; as some would say, two steps forward, one step
backwards. We are advancing. So I believe that what we have achieved
in Kenya can be used as a model to be followed in other African
countries that are in transition.
What we are seeing in Zimbabwe is not very pleasing. And I have
spoken about this openly before and I've been censored, but I have
no regret in repudiating again here. Zimbabwe is an eyesore, an
embarrassment to the African continent, an example of how not to do
it in Africa. And it is sad that many African heads of state are
quiet when the disaster is looming in Zimbabwe. There is no point
in letting Mugabe proceed with a repeat of an election when nobody
knows how many votes were cast in the last elections. How many
registered voters do you have in Zimbabwe? How many votes did Mugabe
get? How many votes did Tsvangirai get? We are only being told 48
percent against 43 percent - of what?
You cannot organize yourself to face an election when you don't know
how you fared in the last one. How many voters did I get in this
region? Where am I weak so that I can strengthen myself? It is a
complete sham and a farce to Africa. We are determined to show that,
in Africa, a country can rise from crisis like Kenya and move toward
prosperity. Thank you very much for listening to me.