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Odinga saw himself as Tsvangirai’s mentor

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga saw himself as a mentor for Movement for Democratic change leader and Prime Minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai and urged Tsvangirai not to accept any power-sharing deal unless it gave him proper executive powers.

At the same time, however, he said that Tsvangirai should consider an agreement in which President Robert Mugabe made some concessions to lessen the power of the presidency.

He said such an agreement would be better than nothing and might create a “safe exit” for Mugabe which would be in the interest of the Zimbabwean people.

Odinga had a keen interest in Zimbabwe because his sister’s daughter was still living in Zimbabwe.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08NAIROBI2140, PRIME MINISTER, DEFENSE MINISTER BRIEF CODEL PAYNE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08NAIROBI2140

2008-09-10 16:49

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Nairobi

VZCZCXRO2824

PP RUEHROV

DE RUEHNR #2140/01 2541649

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P 101649Z SEP 08 ZDS CTG STATE SVC #0092 1561038

FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7004

INFO IGAD COLLECTIVE

AMEMBASSY HARARE 1643

AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 2149

AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 9202

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 NAIROBI 002140

 

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (INFO ADDEES)

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/E FOR MARIA BEYZEROV, H FOR ANDREW MACDERMOTT

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/10/2018

TAGS: OREP PREL PGOV KDEM KCRM ASEC ETRD PREF KE

SUBJECT: PRIME MINISTER, DEFENSE MINISTER BRIEF CODEL PAYNE

 

NAIROBI 00002140 001.2 OF 004

 

 

C O R R E C T E D COPY – ADDED ADDRESSEES

 

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Pamela Slutz for reasons 1.4 (b)

and (d).

 

1. (C) Summary: In separate meetings on August 7-8, CODEL

Payne discussed a wide range of issues with Prime Minister

Raila Odinga, Defense Minister Mohammed Yusuf Haji, Trade

Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Minister of Higher Education Sally

Kosgei, former President Daniel arap Moi, Nobel laureate

Wangari Maathai, and members of the Parliamentary Committee

on Defense and Foreign Relations. Odinga focused on

constitutional reform and the future governance system of

Kenya, the progress of the commissions investigating

post-election violence and electoral irregularities, and the

need to create a better business environment in Kenya. Haji

expressed concern about ongoing insecurity in Somalia and the

threat it represents to Kenya’s national security. CODEL

Payne also held a number of Somalia-focused meetings on

August 7-8 and 11, including meetings with TFG

representatives, international NGOs operating in Somalia, UN

Special Representative on Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, and

officials from the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)

responsible for Kenya and regional programs. The CODEL

attended the Mission’s commemoration of the tenth anniversary

of the Embassy bombing on August 7. End summary.

 

ATTENDEES

 

2. (U) Representative Donald Payne (D-NJ), Chairman of the

Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, House Committee for

Foreign Affairs, met with a number of Kenyan and Somali

officials on August 7-8 and August 11, 2008. On August 7,

CODEL Payne met with Deputy Speaker of the Kenyan Parliament

Farah Maalim and representatives of the Parliamentary

Committees on Defense and Foreign Relations; representatives

of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia; and Kenyan

Defense Minister Yusuf Haji. Participating in the August 7

meetings were Rep. Payne, Ted Dagne of the Congressional

Research Service, and Noelle LuSane, Staff Director, House

Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa and

Global Health. On August 8, Rep. Payne and Mr. Dagne met with

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, NGOs operating in

Somalia, UN Special Representative to the Secretary General

on Somalia Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, Minister of Trade Uhuru

Kenyatta, Minister of Higher Education Sally Kosgei, former

President Moi, and former Parliamentarian and women’s rights

activist Njoki Ndungu. On August 11, Rep. Payne and Mr. Dagne

met with Nobel laureate Professor Wangari Maathai and

representatives from the Kenya and regional offices of the UN

High Commission on Refugees.

 

MEETING WITH PRIME MINISTER ODINGA

 

3. (U) On August 8, Representative Payne and Mr. Dagne met

with Prime Minister Odinga for a lengthy dialogue on a number

of important issues. Also present were DCM Pamela Slutz,

National Intelligence Officer for Africa at the National

Intelligence Council and former Ambassador to Kenya Johnnie

Carson and poloff (notetaker). On the Kenyan side,

participants were PM Odinga, Ambassador Binsai Chepsongol,

Director of the Americas Office at the Ministry of Foreign

Affairs, and Caroli Omondi, Odinga’s chief of staff.

 

CONSOLIDATING UNITY AND THE PM’S ROLE

 

4. (C) Odinga noted that, since his June 2008 visit to

Washington, there had been a number of developments in the

workings of the coalition government. He reported efforts to

consolidate unity between the two factions of the coalition

(Odinga’s ODM party and affiliates, and President Kibaki’s

PNU party and affiliates) were largely successful. Odinga

said that a number of items on the reform agenda agreed to

during the Annan mediation process are still pending (he

cited constitutional reform, land reform, truth and

reconciliation, questions of responsibility for post-election

violence), but that the coalition was working to make

progress on these issues. The role of the Prime Minister is

new, Odinga added and noted that, as it is human nature to

resist new things, he was not surprised to find resistance in

some quarters to his new role and responsibilities. However,

he said, he has a productive working relationship with

President Kibaki, who has “put his foot down” and ordered

some previously reluctant cabinet ministers to cooperate with

Odinga.

 

5. (C) Because the cabinet is so large, Kibaki and Odinga had

agreed to set up six interagency cabinet-level committees to

discuss issues and refer those not resolved or needing

 

NAIROBI 00002140 002.2 OF 004

 

 

Cabinet-level approval to the full Cabinet. The President

chairs the committee on national security, consisting of the

ministries of defense and internal security/provincial

administration and the National Security and Intelligence

Service (NSIS). Odinga clarified that he, as Prime Minister,

has “no direct authority” over these three units or over the

Kenya Police Service. The Prime Minister chairs the other

five committees covering infrastructure, services, finance,

investment/public-private partnerships and planning. In fact,

the ministries of planning and public service report directly

to the Prime Minister. These committees make decisions and

then report back in plenary sessions of the whole cabinet.

The PM noted that implementation of GOK policy and programs

is his responsibility–one he takes very seriously.

 

UPDATE ON COMMISSIONS INVESTIGATING ELECTION, VIOLENCE

 

6. (C) Odinga noted that the commission looking into the

conduct of the elections (the Kriegler commission) was well

advanced in its work and its report was expected soon, and

that the commission examining post-election violence (the

Waki commission) had begun collecting evidence and had been

granted a one-month extension to its original three-month

mandate. Odinga added that the bill to establish a Truth

Justice and Reconciliation Commission was currently in

Parliament (note: Parliament is currently in recess until

early October). The scope of the proposed commission would be

to examine historical justices and inequalities dating back

to Kenya’s independence, with a mandate of about one year.

Odinga also noted that Bishop Desmond Tutu had been mentioned

as a possible chairman/commissioner due to his work on

reconciliation efforts in South Africa. He did not say

whether Tutu had actually been approached by anyone from the

Kenyan side.

 

CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM BILLS MOVING AHEAD, NEED SOME REVISION

 

7. (C) Odinga said that there are currently two bills related

to the constitutional reform process in Parliament: the

Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill and the Constitution of

Kenya Review Bill. The first bill entrenches the review

process in the constitution to insulate it from litigation;

the second sets out a roadmap for the review process. Odinga

noted that there are some concerns with both bills. The first

draft tabled of the Amendment Bill set out unrealistically

high demands for voter turnout and approval of a new

constitution by referendum, but Odinga felt these provisions

were likely to be amended before Parliament reconvenes.

Odinga also noted that he did not think much time was needed

for the constitutional reform process because the majority of

any proposed text was not likely to be contentious. Odinga

noted that the issues had been fully debated, clearly

delineated and mostly resolved in the multi-year (2003-2005)

national consultation process that produced the two competing

drafts of a new constitution: the so-called “Bomas” draft

(favored by ODM, among others) and the so-called “Wako” draft

(named after the Attorney General). (Note: It was the Wako

draft, submitted by the Kibaki government for a national

referendum in November 2005, that was previously rejected by

the voters.) Odinga thought that it was not necessary to

repeat the multi-year process. A panel of experts selected by

Parliament could more efficiently examine the remaining

controversial issues, he added. Odinga cited the two most

controversial issues as: first, devolution, or the

decentralization of authorities and powers to new regional

administrative units which would replace the existing

provincial/district units, and second, the relationship and

power sharing betweebn the President and Vice President and

the Prime Minister. Odinga added that even those who were

previously opposed to devolution or decentralization now

agree that some degree of devolution is necessary.

 

HOW SHOULD KENYA BE GOVERNED?

 

8. (C) Not surprisingly, Odinga expressed a preference for a

Parliamentary rather than a Presidential system for Kenya,

and said that Kenya’s experience since independence had

highlighted the weaknesses of the Presidential system in the

Kenyan context. Odinga expressed concerns about the

potentially divisive nature of a system that concentrates so

much power in the hands of the President, and noted that the

winner-take-all nature of this system had inspired some

politicians to instill artificial fears in some communities

that induced them to vote as an ethnic bloc out of fear.

Odinga added that a Parliamentary system where the party with

the majority of seats forms a government and chooses a Prime

Minister would be better for Kenya. Odinga argued that Kenya

 

NAIROBI 00002140 003 OF 004

 

 

would be better off without presidential elections because,

given the stakes involved, these elections had evolved into

violent, tribalistic competitions that would continue to pit

Kenyans against Kenyans every five years. (Comment: It is

clear that Odinga and the majority of ODM still favor a

severe reduction in the powers of the presidency. End

comment.)

 

REFUGEES: CONCERN ABOUT ECONOMIC MIGRANTS

 

9. (C) Mr. Dagne raised the issue of Somali refugees in

Kenya, and asked about the impact of the official closure of

the Kenya-Somalia border and whether Kenya was considering

opening more camp space for recent Somali arrivals. Odinga

responded that Kenya has long been a generous host to

refugees fleeing war-torn neighboring countries. He noted

that the government was considering moving refugees from

Dadaab to Kakuma, as there is more space there since some

southern Sudanese refugees have returned home. He also noted

that some asylum seekers might properly be considered

economic migrants rather than refugees, and that Kenya will

continue to accept all legitimate refugees.

 

FACILITATING TRADE AND INVESTMENT

 

10. (C) Odinga proudly described his recent engagement with

the private sector, including a series of plenary and

roundtable discussions chaired by Odinga with business

leaders and key GOK officials in ministries like Trade,

Industrialization, Finance, and Agriculture. Odinga said

that, as a result of these discussions, a number of key

policy decisions that had been pending for a long time were

finally made. For example, GOK ministries and parastatals

committed to address power outages in Nairobi’s industrial

area, to reduce the number of police roadblocks on major

routes to speed cargo traffic, to expedite backlogged VAT

refund claims, and to stop illegal export of copper stolen

from power lines and transformers to China. He cited complex

bureaucratic procedures, corruption, poor infrastructure and

insecurity as major obstacles to growth in foreign direct

investment. He noted that he plans to do a major trade

promotion trip to the U.S. in early 2009.

 

SECURITY, POLICING AND CRIME

 

11. (C) Odinga agreed with Rep. Payne that crime and

insecurity are major challenges confronting Kenya. He said

that the GOK plans to introduce closed-circuit TV monitoring

in cities, as well as to raise salaries for police to combat

petty crime and bribery committed by police officers. He

noted that there are a number of small arms in the hands of

criminals, which he attributed to weapons crossing Kenya’s

insecure and porous border with Somalia. He also noted

efforts to achieve the recommended UN ratio of police to

citizens, as well as the need to depoliticize Kenya’s

security forces. Odinga and his advisor, Caroli Omondi,

mentioned that the Waki Commission was also tasked with

recommending ways to increase the efficiency of the police.

One of the Waki Commissioners, retired New Zealand police

official Gavin McFadden, was responsible for compiling these

recommendations. The options under consideration range from

putting the police more firmly under the control of the

Minister of Internal Security (instead of the largely

autonomous Police Commissioner) to decentralizing the police

and changing their mission into more of a community-based

police force.

 

BASHIR INDICTMENT: FOCUS SHOULD REMAIN ON AU INTERVENTION

 

12. (C) When asked about the ICC’s recent indictment of

Sudanese President Bashir, Odinga said that his position was

a bit different than the official GOK position, which was not

yet formulated because the issue had yet to be discussed by

the full Cabinet. He said that he remained very concerned

that Bashir was not doing enough to end the genocide in

Darfur, and that the ICC indictment was something of a

distraction from the core issue that the situation in Darfur

was not being addressed by Bashir’s government. He noted that

the AU has the primary responsibility to push for a speedy

resolution in Darfur, and that any UN or ICC efforts are

complementary to the AU mandate.

 

ZIMBABWE: TIME FOR MDC TO MAKE A DEAL?

 

13. (C) Odinga reiterated that his strong stance on Zimbabwe

remains unchanged, and noted that it seems to be bearing some

fruit in terms of inspiring other African leaders to speak

 

NAIROBI 00002140 004.2 OF 004

 

 

out. (Note: Odinga cited the leaders of Tanzania, Rwanda,

Burkina Faso and Botswana as members of the “new generation”

that has been more forward-leaning on the Zimbabwe issue.

Conversely, he cited Gabonese President Bongo as someone who

inappropriately received Mugabe at the recent AU summit in

Egypt with “velvet gloves.”) Odinga mentioned that he had

spoken to South African President Mbeki and urged him to be

more proactive in the talks between Zimbabwean President

Mugabe and his challenger, Morgan Tsvangirai. Odinga said

that Tsvangirai’s party should not accept any power-sharing

agreement unless it gave him some proper executive powers. He

added that Tsvangirai should, however, consider an agreement

in which Mugabe has made some concessions to lessen the power

of the presidency. Such an agreement would be better than

nothing, Odinga said, and might create a “safe exit” for

Mugabe, which is in the interest of the Zimbabwean people.

Odinga showed Rep. Payne a 50 billion Zimbabwe dollar note,

which his sister had brought back from a recent visit to her

daughter, who is still living in Zimbabwe, and cited it as a

small concrete example of how bad things have gotten in that

country. (Note: Odinga clearly sees himself as a mentor to

Tsvangirai, and appears to empathize with Tsvangirai’s

predicament. His family connections to Zimbabwe, and the loss

of his sister’s formerly successful business there, have also

kept the issue in the forefront for Odinga. End note.)

 

LAND RIGHTS AND IDPS

 

14. (C) Odinga noted that land has been a contentious issue

in Kenya since independence, and cited post-independence

decisions to allocate very large farms in Rift Valley to

Kenyatta loyalists as one of the root causes of the recent

conflict there. Because of the number of enormous farms of

2,000-5,000 acres in Rift Valley and Central provinces,

Odinga said, many former residents have been pushed onto 3-5

acre plots or are squatting in the Mau forest. Odinga

suggested moving some residents together into small

settlements and consolidating some of their unsustainable

small farms into successful larger-scale commercial farms for

the benefit of all the landholders in the community, like the

kibbutz model used in Israel. Odinga also noted that the

Ministry of Lands is currently preparing a new land and land

use policy, which will soon be presented to the relevant

Cabinet committee and then published in Parliament. On

internally displaced persons (IDPs), Odinga said that less

than 100,000 remain displaced. Those IDPs are unable to

return due to fear of a hostile environment or because they

were originally squatters and now have nowhere else to go. He

underlined the importance of the inter-ethnic reconciliation

work currently being “spearheaded” by the GOK, with the

participation of the provincial administrations, religious

institutions, and civil society.

 

MEETING WITH MINISTER HAJI: BORDER FEARS

 

15. (C) On August 7, Rep. Payne and Mr. Dagne also met with

Minister of Defense Mohammed Yusuf Haji. Haji is a close

associate of President Kibaki. Haji described the coalition

government as working well, and felt that cooperation across

party lines in the Cabinet committees was good. Haji

expressed concern about the security situation in Somalia and

the threat it presents to Kenya’s national security

interests. (Note: Haji, an ethnic Somali, is from Kenya’s

North Eastern province that borders Somalia. End note.) Haji

emphasized the urgent need for a functioning government in

Somalia, which would weaken the influence of Islamist

extremism in the country. He noted that, although physical

closure of the nearly 1,000 kilometer long border was not

possible, it was important to maintain the official border

closure and troop deployment in strategic areas in order to

prevent any influx of bad actors into Kenya. Regarding the

Ethiopian presence in Somalia, Haji noted that, given the

long history of distrust between Somalis and Ethiopians, any

Ethiopian intervention will be viewed with suspicion by

Somalis even if the underlying intent is good. He also

expressed concern that the Ethiopian presence in Somalia

could be used by Islamists as a pretext to gain increased

support for their political agenda. Mr. Dagne raised the

issue of Kenyan Somalis allegedly extradited to Ethiopia in

early 2007. While sympathetic, Haji pointed out that

citizenship in the border region is often ambiguous, and many

Kenyan Somalis, as well as members of the coastal Digo tribe,

have no official papers, passport, or national identity card.

 

16. (U) CODEL Payne has not had the opportunity to clear on

this cable.

RANNEBERGER

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