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Cablegate: Reform Caucus Launched in Parliament

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PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHNR #2287/01 3070806
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 030806Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1455
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM PRIORITY 6678
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3342
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 3178
RUEAWJA/DOJ WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NAIROBI 002287

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/E DRIANO

E.O.12958: N /A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM KE

SUBJECT: REFORM CAUCUS LAUNCHED IN PARLIAMENT

REF: N/A

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Following a luncheon with Assistant Secretary
(A/S) Johnnie Carson and an American Chamber of Commerce-hosted
breakfast attended by Ambassador Ranneberger, an initial 17 Members
of Parliament have launched a "Reform Caucus." The Reform Caucus,
which may be recognized as an official entity within Parliament
under the new Standing Orders, will focus on fast-tracking the
constitutional review process and pro-reform legislation within
Parliament. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) During Secretary Clinton's visit to Nairobi in August,
several reform MPs requested U.S. support for the formation of an
"opposition" within Parliament. (Note: Since virtually all political
parties are currently members of the coalition government, the
traditional role of the opposition in Parliament has been largely
abandoned. End note.) In response, A/S Carson pointed out that an
opposition would slow down Parliament's glacial legislative process
even further, and suggested that the MPs focus on the formation of a
"reform caucus" instead.

3. (SBU) For the past three months, the Embassy has worked with a
number of reform-minded MPs to continue the discussion on the
formation of a reform caucus. We have worked with MPs to ensure that
the caucus (1) bridges party and ethnic lines, (2) welcomes all MPs
wishing to support the reform agenda, (3) does not advance any
individual partisan interests, and (4) is focused on fast-tracking
the constitutional review process and legislation which advances
political and economic reforms (such as the Anti-Money Laundering
bill).

4. (SBU) On October 26, A/S Carson and Ambassador Ranneberger hosted
a lunch with five MPs (Boni Khalwale, New FORD-K, Western Province;
Margaret Kamar, ODM, Rift Valley Province; Danson Mungatana, NARC-K,
Coast Province; Olagu Aluoch, ODM, Nyanza Province; and Joyce
Laboso, ODM, Rift Valley Province) to discuss progress on the reform
agenda. Following a wide-ranging debate on the constitution, in
which it was apparent that the government has not reached a
consensus position on outstanding contentious issues, Carson urged
the MPs to focus on building institutional capacity for reform while
placing a time limit on the constitutional debate. Should the reform
debate continue too long, Carson noted, the impending election in
2012 and the politics of presidential succession will make progress
on constitutional review and the reform agenda nearly impossible.

5. (SBU) The morning of October 27, 17 MPs (including four who had
joined the A/S Carson luncheon) gathered for a breakfast jointly
hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce Kenya (ACCK) and the
Embassy to discuss the importance of political and business reforms
to ensure Kenya's stability and improve its investment climate.
The Ambassador opened the breakfast by calling upon MPs to take the
lead in pushing for reforms both publicly and within government.
Private sector leaders then acknowledged that companies have been
overly focused on seeking reforms from the executive branch of
government, but are now looking to Parliament to spearhead
legislation such as the Anti-Money Laundering bill.

6. (SBU) MP Danson Mungatana responded to the Ambassador and ACCK
leaders by stating that Parliament should "seek first a new
Constitution, and all else will be added to us as well," while
noting the absence of a cross-party advocacy group dedicated to
advancing reforms. MP Margaret Kamar followed Mungatana's comments
by suggesting that the time has come to formally organize a reform
caucus open to all MPs willing to advance the reform agenda. This
suggestion was met with strong support by the gathered MPs. MP Boni
Khalwale then moved that the MPs agree on a formal leadership
structure for a "Reform Caucus." Huddled around a table for nearly
an hour, the MPs elected a caucus whip (Mungatana), resolved to file
for recognition from Speaker Kenneth Marende, and planned to meet
again on November 17. (Comment: Recognition of the Reform Caucus as
an official entity within Parliament is possible due to the new
Parliamentary Standing Orders, developed with U.S. support. End
Comment.) The MPs then called a press conference and announced the
formation of the Reform Caucus and its first meeting with the U.S.
business community, receiving coverage in both national newspapers.

7. (SBU) The formation of the Reform Caucus has generated
significant interest within Parliament; approximately 30 MPs (of 222
total) have already joined or expressed interest in joining. The
Caucus has succeeded in building connections across party and
regional lines. For example, prior to its formation, Mungatana and
Kamar were mutually suspicious of each other's reform credentials,
but are now working together in the leadership of the Reform
Caucus.


NAIROBI 00002287 002 OF 002


8. (SBU) COMMENT. It remains to be seen whether the Parliamentary
Reform Caucus will be effective or cohesive, but the founding MPs
appear to be serious in their desire to establish a robust
pro-reform bloc within Parliament. Such a caucus has historical
precedent; in 1992 and again in 1997 the Inter-Parties Parliamentary
Group functioned as a caucus in negotiating constitutional reforms
with the Moi government, including term limits which eventually
forced Moi to step down in 2002.

9. (SBU) COMMENT CONTINUED. We will be quietly supporting the Reform
Caucus by providing capacity building and technical assistance,
appropriately highlighting their work in public fora, and reaching
out to reformist MPs to encourage them to join the caucus. We are
also working to send a delegation of six to eight members of the
caucus to Washington in mid-December to learn about how caucuses
function in Congress and to formally recognize the MPs who are
driving reforms forward in the Kenyan Parliament. END COMMENT.


RANNEBERGER

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