United States assistant secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson said he had long regarded President Robert Mugabe’s stay in office as infinite as long as the security forces were behind him.
Carson, a former ambassador to Zimbabwe, said the United States was therefore looking for possible ways to help Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and reiterated the importance of targeted sanctions on individuals in Mugabe’s government.
Carson was speaking at a meeting with British Foreign Office officials who said they were looking for proof of progress in Zimbabwe.
British Prime Minister’s special advisor on Africa Brendan Cox said Britain would not change its policy on Zimbabwe substantially unless a quid pro quo was part of the strategy.
Possible elements included removal of Gideon Gono from the Reserve Bank, commitment to fully empower and swear in Roy Bennett, allowing the return of journalists into the country, and commitments to allow international monitoring of elections.
Viewing cable 09STATE52639, A/S CARSON AND NSC SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAVIN
DE RUEHC #2639 1472324
ZNY CCCCC ZZH ZDS
R 221236Z MAY 09
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHSB/AMEMBASSY HARARE 3821-3822
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 7538-7539
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4270-4271
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 1732-1733
INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 7488-7489
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI 0458-0459
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 4443-4444
C O N F I D E N T I A L STATE 052639
C O N F I D E N T I A L STATE 052639
C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (ADDED SUBJ TAGS)
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/22/2019
SUBJECT: A/S CARSON AND NSC SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAVIN
DISCUSS AFRICA ISSUES WITH SENIOR UK REPRESENTATIVES
Classified By: AF A/S Johnnie Carson, Reasons 1.4 (b) & (d)
¶1. (SBU) On May 19, senior U.S. and UK Africa representatives
participated in a secure video teleconference (SVTC) focused
on Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Somalia. All expressed mutual
interest in holding a regular dialogue via SVTC, and agreed
to meet during Wood’s June 9-10 trip to Washington. U.S.
participants included Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
Johnnie Carson, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for
African Affairs Phillip Carter, and NSC-Africa Senior
Director Michelle Gavin. UK participants included Foreign
and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Africa Director Adam Wood,
Cabinet Office Senior Policy Advisor for Africa Anna French,
the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor for Africa and
Development Brendan Cox, and Department for International
Development (DFID) Deputy Director for East and Central
Africa John Gordon.
¶2. (C) Carson warned that Kenya’s democracy is fragile and
political tensions have seriously fragmented the coalition.
He summarized the AF/NSC visit to Kenya last week, where
Carson and Gavin met with, among others, President Kibaki,
Prime Minister Odinga, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of
Finance Uhura Kenyatta, and the current and former Ministers
of Justice. Carson indicated he would return to Nairobi in
early June to reinforce messages made during the trip and to
continue pressing Kenya for progress on reform. (Note: the
trip is now postponed until July.)
– Carson noted his deep disappointment with the slow pace of
implementation of the Kofi Annan accord. He described the
striking weakness of the coalition and the apparent
alienation of Odinga from his closest supporters. Some in
the administration seemed to be taking a hard line on the
amount of power held by the Prime Minister. He expressed
concern with the sharp rise in human rights violations,
particularly the killing of young Kenyans by gangs in the
police service. He also noted a significant uptick in the
level of corruption, both in Odinga’s Orange Democratic
Movement coalition and Kibaki’s Party of National Unity.
– Carson noted that Secretary Clinton is expected to visit
Kenya in early August for the African Growth and Opportunity
Act Forum; the U.S. will want to use the visit to ratchet up
pressure on the Kenyans. He said the Secretary also planned
to raise Kenya and Zimbabwe in her May 19 meeting with former
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
¶3. (C) Gavin noted that she was also struck by the divide
between political elites and civil society– political elites
did not seem to be seized with the seriousness of the
¶4. (C) Wood, who visited Kenya just after Easter, echoed U.S.
concerns and warned that the visible anger of civil society
and ongoing human rights violations by police presented a
recipe for police violence. He noted the need to press for
progress on constitutional and other reforms over the next
few months and to break the culture of impunity. Wood
inquired into progress on the local tribunal; Carson noted it
was likely a hybrid was in the works. The UK’s next steps
include a potential invitation to Kibaki to visit the UK.
Wood acknowledged that stronger U.S. connections to Kibaki
and other Kenyan officials make the U.S. better placed to
push messages. Carson and Wood agreed they may want to visit
Kenya in tandem to signal stronger concerns.
¶5. (C) Wood left for Zimbabwe May 19 for a 48-hour visit; he
indicated he would not make any commitments to Tendai Biti
and Morgan Tsvangirai during the trip. Wood noted that he
would be in an “interrogative” mode, asking for proof of
progress. The UK is interested in benchmarks based on the
Global Political Agreement (GPA), which they agree is a means
not an end. Cox said the PM will not change policy
substantially unless a quid pro quo is part of the
strategy-possible elements include removal of Gideon Gono
from the Reserve Bank, commitment to fully empower and swear
in Roy Bennett, allowing the return of journalists into the
country, and commitments to allow international monitoring of
elections. Wood acknowledged that the UK may be more
forward-leaning than the U.S. on Zimbabwe, and warned that
excessive caution from the international community in
providing assistance could doom the Zimbabweans to failure.
He noted the UK is considering additional support for
¶6. (C) Carson noted the U.S. is looking for possible ways to
be helpful to Tsvangirai and reiterated the importance of
maintaining targeted sanctions on individuals in the regime.
Post is inclined to support limited assistance in health and
education. Carson noted he has long regarded Mugabe’s stay
in power as infinite, as long as the security forces are
¶7. (C) Gavin noted that that President Obama will see
Tsvangirai in Washington next month and will privately
underscore with him that the GPA is not an end in itself.
Gavin also noted the Movement for Democratic Change’s recent
call to the Southern African Development Community to press
for more engagement by the regional organization.
¶8. (C) Wood and Cox expressed interest in meeting in
Washington “to get a better sense of where the administration
is across the board” on Sudan. Wood inquired into the status
of the policy review; Gavin expressed optimism that it was
near completion. Gavin welcomed the proposal for a meeting
in Washington, also noting the need to incorporate U.S.
Special Envoy to Sudan Gration’s views on next steps.
¶9. (C) Wood asked for the U.S. read on the situation on the
ground and its implications for President Sharif’s position.
He expressed disappointment that Sharif has not done more on
reconciliation or formation of the unity government. He
noted that if weakened, Sharif may need to broaden his
alliances, which may include reaching out to Aweys.
¶10. (C) Carson characterized the situation as extraordinarily
fragile and confusing– depending on how the situation is
read, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has either
overcome its toughest test and survived, or is about to be
defeated by al-Shabaab. He noted that Ugandan President
Museveni believes the TFG will not collapse and that
al-Shabaab has been thwarted in Mogadishu. Reports from
Addis Ababa, Nairobi, and the media indicate that the
situation is fragile, fluid, and uncertain, and that the
battle for Mogadishu has not been resolved. He noted reports
that al-Shabaab has captured several towns, as well as of
Ethiopians inside the border, which would represent a show of
support for the TFG.
¶11. (C) Carson noted that if Sharif survives the most
concerted effort that al-Shabaab can launch, with
international support he may emerge stronger. He stressed
that the international community must find a way to
strengthen Sharif, his forces, and his government; to gain
public support, the TFG must be able to demonstrate its
effectiveness in delivering basic government services. He
noted that at the Secretary’s request, we have done as much
as possible to shore up the TFG, including urging
InterGovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) support for
the TFG on the margins of the May 20 IGAD Ministerial and
delivering $500,000 to Somalia last Friday. Cox inquired
about the $2 M notified to the UN sanctions committee.
Carter explained that the $2 M (which includes the $500,000
already released) will go toward salaries, weapons,
equipment, and material support. He noted the U.S. is
working with the TFG to ensure our support is deconflicted
with the TFG’s requests for assistance to other donor
Gavin highlighted the importance of seizing the opportunities
related to potential al-Shabaab expulsion from Mogadishu.