Cablegate: Outreach to Propel the Reform Process

DE RUEHNR #2410 3291122
R 251122Z NOV 09




E.O. 12958:N/A
SUBJECT: Outreach to Propel the Reform Process

REFS: (A) Nairobi 2376 (B) Nairobi 2133

1. Summary. This message summarizes recent travel throughout Kenya
as part of continuing and intensified outreach efforts aimed at
encouraging domestic-driven peaceful pressure for implementation of
the reform agenda. End summary.

2. The Mission remains engaged in intense outreach to all regions,
political constituencies, and ethnic communities of Kenya in an
effort to encourage peaceful popular pressure to implement the
reform agenda. The Ambassador is averaging a trip at least every
two weeks, and officers from the political section, economic
section, public affairs, and USAID are even more frequently in the
field. The visits include, to varying degrees, contacts with civil
society; discussions with local officials, elders, and community
leaders; town hall-style meetings; outreach to youth; and engaging
with local radio, as well as providing support for specific USG
projects. Refs A and B, respectively, reported travel by the
Ambassador and a Mission team to the north Rift Valley, and to
north-central Kenya.

3. Outreach in recent months has included trips to Nyanza Province,
south and north Rift Valley, Eastern Province, and Central Province.
There has also been extensive outreach in Muslim areas (reported

4. Members of Parliament are showing an increasing interest in
traveling with the Ambassador and his team, as reflected in three of
the trips. In Sotik, in Rift Valley Province, Orange Democratic
Movement MP Joyce Laboso participated. She joined the Ambassador at
a town hall meeting with the local people, and agreed to answer
questions. (Standard practice by Kenyan politicians is to address a
set-piece meeting, and then to depart without any dialogue having
taken place.) In Mutito, in Eastern Province, Orange Democratic
Movement-K MP Kiama Kilonzo joined the Ambassador for a large town
hall meeting with local youth, and also agreed - albeit reluctantly
- to answer questions. During the visit to Sotik the Ambassador
participated in an hour-long call-in radio show. In Githunguri and
Kiambu, in Central Province, the Ambassador participated in a town
hall meeting with several hundred young people and local community
leaders. After greeting the Ambassador, local Party of National
Unity MP Njoroge Baiya backed out of his commitment to participate
in the town hall meeting. (Few parliamentarians are willing to risk
a real give-and-take dialogue with an assembly of citizens,
particularly when they know that tough questions will be raised
about local development, corruption, and the reform agenda.)

5. The town hall meetings and a wide range of other contacts
(including impromptu encounters in markets and other places) reveals
that ordinary Kenyan citizens are generally aware of the reform
agenda and want to see change, particularly through action against
corruption and bringing about of a new constitution. Those
participating in the town hall meeting in Central Province were
particularly scathing about the government, noting that though the
Kikuyu elite control much of the country's wealth, citizens perceive
that very little trickles down to the grassroots.

6. The feedback we are receiving through e-mails, letters, text
messages, on our face book and twitter sites, and verbally remains
extremely positive about this continuing outreach. Kenyans
correctly see the outreach as part of U.S. efforts to press for
implementation of reforms. Many Kenyans note that they are hungry
for such dialogue and frustrated by their leaders' inability or
unwillingness to do the same. The impact of the outreach efforts
and the fact that growing pressure coming from Kenyans for change is
being felt by politicians are reflected in the fact that we are
receiving extensive requests for visits and that reform-minded
parliamentarians are increasingly willing to participate alongside

7. Of particular interest is the fact that in all of these outreach
activities we are receiving enthusiastic support from local
officials, the administrative police, elders, and other community
leaders. In almost all instances they are working with our advance
teams to organize truly open town hall meetings, and are themselves
participating in the meetings. In most cases community leaders want
to see change (in terms of reforms, anti-corruption activities, and
genuine poverty alleviation development programs) and are highly
skeptical about their leaders' willingness to deliver.

8. We will continue these outreach activities as part of a broader
integrated effort to propel implementation of the reform agenda.


© Scoop Media

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