in Stories

Odinga said Mugabe and Tsvangirai wanted to talk but…

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Zimbabwean leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe were both willing to negotiate but from different starting points.

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai wanted to negotiate on the basis of the first election result which he had won but not by an outright majority.

Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front leader Robert Mugabe wanted to negotiate from the position of President, because he had won the run-off though Tsvangirai had pulled out because of violence.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08NAIROBI1815, PRESIDENT AND PRIME MINISTER TELL CODEL PRICE

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08NAIROBI1815

2008-07-28 13:07

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Nairobi

VZCZCXRO7654

PP RUEHROV

DE RUEHNR #1815/01 2101307

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 281307Z JUL 08

FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6589

INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY 0173

RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM PRIORITY 6057

RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI PRIORITY 5348

RUEHSB/AMEMBASSY HARARE PRIORITY 1639

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA PRIORITY 2897

RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM PRIORITY 2104

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2878

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2797

RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY

RHMFISS/CJTF HOA PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 NAIROBI 001815

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/28/2018

TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM KBIO KE ZI

SUBJECT: PRESIDENT AND PRIME MINISTER TELL CODEL PRICE

CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM IS TOP PRIORITY

 

REF: A. NAIROBI 1659

B. NAIROBI 1698

C. NAIROBI 1500

 

Classified By: Charge d’Affairs Pamela Slutz, reasons 1.4 (b,d).

 

1. (U) CODEL Price has cleared on this cable.

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

2. (C) In separate meetings held on July 3, CODEL Price heard

from both President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila

Odinga that constitutional reform is one of the Grand

Coalition Government’s top priorities. Prime Minister Odinga

also discussed at length the challenges Kenya faces in light

of the wake of post-election crisis: the resettlement of

internally displaced persons, reconstruction of damaged

infrastructure, reconciliation among ethnic groups, and the

need to stimulate economic growth. Odinga also briefly

discussed the situation in Zimbabwe, commenting that based on

recent discussions with other regional leaders, he thought

that both President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader

Morgan Tsvangirai were open to negotiating with one another.

President Kibaki expressed optimism about constitutional

reform and the resolution of issues that fuelled the

post-election crisis in Kenya, particularly land reform. End

Summary.

 

———

Attendees

———

 

3. (U) Representative David Price (D-NC), Chairman of the

House Democracy Assistance Commission (HDAC), met on July 3

with Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and President Mwai

Kibaki. The meeting with Odinga and his staff was also

attended by:

 

Representative Lois Capps (D-CA), HDAC member

Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN), HDAC member

Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN), HDAC member

Representative Mel Watt (D-NC)

Representative Brad Miller (D-NC)

Ambassador Michael Ranneberger, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya

John Lis, Staff Director, House Democracy Assistance

Commission

Brad Smith, Professional Staff Member, House Committee on

Rules

Barbara Chow, Policy Director, House Budget Committee

Tommy Ross, Legislative Assistant, Office of Representative

Price

Rachael Leman, Policy Director, Office of Representative

David Dreier

Nicholas Cook, Congressional Research Service

Lauren Ploch, Congressional Research Service

Dwight Al Smith, Embassy Control Officer

Rachael Doherty, Embassy notetaker

 

4. (U) The meeting with President Kibaki was attended by

Minister of Foreign Affairs Moses Wetangula; Ambassador

Chepsongol, Head of Americas Division, Ministry of Foreign

Affairs; Representatives Price, Capps, Ellison, Cooper, and

Watt; Ambassador Ranneberger; staffers Ross and Ploch; and

embassy notetaker.

 

——————————————— ———–

Prime Minister Odinga: Constitutional Reform Comes First

——————————————— ———–

 

5. (C) On July 3, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his staff

met with the members of CODEL Price to discuss Odinga’s views

on Kenya’s governmental structure and the way forward in the

wake of the post-election crisis. Odinga explained that

Kenya has inherited a mixed governmental system — neither

presidential nor parliamentary — and that the disputed

election (and hung Parliament) led to the need for a

coalition government to form and implement the

constitutional, land, and other reforms necessary to help

Kenya move forward. Gaps in the constitution have led to

 

NAIROBI 00001815 002 OF 003

 

 

regional imbalances and inequalities, Odinga said, and the

post-election crisis has added serious challenges to

coalition government. In addition to the estimated 1,500

deaths and 350,000 internally displaced people, approximately

USD 500 million worth of property was destroyed. While the

U.S. has provided valuable assistance, Odinga said, there is

still a gap.

 

6. (C) When asked what issue tops his priority list for

parliament to deliver, Odinga lamented that the Kenyan people

have overly high expectations given the promises both parties

made during the election campaign. That said, the two main

political parties forming the coalition government (Odinga’s

own Orange Democratic Movement and President Kibaki’s Party

of National Unity) have harmonized their manifestos and

identified long term and “mission critical” tasks to help

boost Kenya’s economic development for the next 22 years (ref

C). Priority number one, however, would be the delivery of a

new constitution, which he hoped would be tabled as a bill by

April 2009 (ref B).

 

7. (C) Raila hastened to add that reconciliation,

reconstruction, and resettlement in light of the

post-election violence were top priorities along with

constitutional reform. Other priorities included poverty and

income disparity reduction as well as speeding economic

growth. On the judicial reform front, Odinga said that he

has asked the Chief Justice to improve the quality of service

from judges by putting them on performace contracts. Odinga

also said that he wants to introduce affirmative action into

the parliament by creating elected seats for women only.

This will provide more women an opportunity to get used to

electoral politics so that they can more effectively run for

seats in regular constituencies, he said.

 

——————————————— —–

Odinga: This Coalition Government is An Experiment

——————————————— —–

 

8. (C) When asked how he balances the job of Prime Minister

of a coalition government with being the head of the Orange

Democratic Movement, which ran as an opposition party, Odinga

replied that the current coalition government is an

experiment for the continent of Africa and poses a serious

challenge: “People expect miracles, but how do you unite two

movements who were just at each others’ throats?”

 

9. (C) Odinga explained how he is trying to tranform the

contentious relationships into cohesive ones that can work

together to deliver reform to the Kenyan people. One of his

first acts was to organize a “bonding session” with the

cabinet, which also took the form of explaining how the

cabinet process works. Second, Odinga designed a cabinet

committee system to deal with the bloated but politically

necessary cabinet. Cabinet members are divided into groups

that oversee issues such as reconstruction, security, and

social services and report to plenary sessions. While Odinga

has emphasized that there will be no tolerance for corruption

in the coalition government, he said that he has also

emphasized the importance of not criticizing one another in

public. Odinga noted that the success of the coalition

government experiment will rest on reducing the tension,

fear, and suspicion in cabinet.

 

————————-

Odinga on Zimbabwe: Both

Sides Wanted to Negotiate

————————-

 

10. (C) When asked about the situation in Zimbabwe, Odinga

replied that President Kibaki had just spoken with Zimbabwe

President Robert Mugabe on July 2 in Sharm el Sheikh. In

Kibaki’s view, Mugabe is ready to negotiate, but he wants to

up the stakes, Odinga said. “This is the same thing (South

African President Thabo) Mbeki told me when I was in

Capetown: that both parties wanted to negotiate, but they

wanted to do it at different times. Opposition leader Morgan

Tsvangarai wanted to negotiate on the basis of the basis of

the first election result. Mugabe wanted to negotiate from

the position of President,” Odinga said. “Now Mugabe is in a

position where his party has no majority in parliament and he

 

NAIROBI 00001815 003 OF 003

 

 

needs the opposition. Let’s wait and see,” Odinga concluded.

 

11. (C) Although he initially reminded the delegation that he

had been deemed persona non grata in Zimbabwe after his

strong remarks against Mugabe, Odinga did not rule out the

possibility of playing a mediating role in the Zimbabwe

crisis.

 

——————————

President Kibaki: Bullish on

Constitutional and Land Reform

——————————

 

12. (C) When asked about his priorities for delivering

results to the Kenyan people, President Kibaki said that a

new constitution is priority number one. The reform process

has been going on for four years now and was nearly agreed

but not completed, he said. “Now there is agreement on 96

percent of the constitution, and I think we’ll reach an

agreement over the remainder by this month or next month.

The issue should be resolved by September,” Kibaki predicted.

 

13. (C) Despite previous arguments about land ownership by

different ethnic groups — particularly in Rift Valley areas

like Eldoret and Nakuru and in some areas of Coast Province

— Kibaki assured the group that people generally seem to

agree on the way forward. While there are still some sticky

issues, like deviating from traditions of inherited land

ownership, communally owned land, and tribal land now

belonging to wild game parks, Kibaki expressed confidence

that they would be dealt with.

 

14. (C) On the question of how to heal the nation in the wake

of the post-election violence, Kibaki said that the most

important thing was to get people talking to one another.

“These people have lived together for years,” Kibaki said.

“Some are helping to rebuild their communities together,

which begs the question, why were they fighting in the first

place?” He added that the fact that many people from

different ethnic groups are farmers, and planting crops

together “will help quite a lot.” Children were not as

affected by the conflict as adults, Kibaki added, as they

know no other home. “They are the ones who will help build a

new country,” he said.

 

——————————

Kibaki: No Confidence Vote on

Kimunya Didn’t Focus On Issues

——————————

 

15. (C) When asked about his thoughts regarding the previous

day’s parliamentary vote to censure Finance Minister Amos

Kimunya for his role in the Grand Regency Hotel scandal

(septel), Kibaki expressed frustration with the tenor of

debate among parliamentarians. “The debate quickly shifted

to other matters… I couldn’t see what they were arguing

about, but I was pleased to see that Minister (Kinunya)

remained cool,” Kibaki said.

 

16. (C) Comment: The meeting with President Kibaki was late

in the day, and as the meeting wore on his fatigue showed.

He consistently glossed over difficult issues and at times

did not appear to understand the questions being asked. On

some occasions, Foreign Minister Wetangula stepped in to

answer on Kibaki’s behalf. The land issue was clearly on

Kibaki’s mind, and he formulated many of his answers around

it even when the question did not touch on land at all.

Odinga, on the other hand, appeared to be at the top of his

game, nailing his talking points and answering questions

diplomatically and clearly. End Comment.

SLUTZ

(10 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHAREShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Write a Comment

Comment