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How Kalonzo sought US help to edge Kibaki out

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 3 – The latest secret US cables released by WikiLeaks show that Kalonzo Musyoka wanted former US President George W. Bush to prevail upon President Mwai Kibaki to step down in his favour on medical grounds, shortly before the 2007 General Elections.

In a candid conversation during a private lunch with US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger at the height of the campaigns, the cable shows that Mr Musyoka was increasingly concerned about the President’s health and wanted President Bush to call and urge him to step down in his favour.

Mr Musyoka was mainly concerned that should President Kibaki experience health problems, the electoral process would be plunged into a crisis.

“Musyoka expressed concerns about the health of President Kibaki and the negative impact on the electoral process should Kibaki experience a health crisis before the elections,” the unflattering dossier on WikiLeaks reveals.

“Musyoka seriously suggested that President Bush should call President Kibaki to urge him to step aside,” the cable adds.  It’s not clear if President Bush ever placed the call to President Kibaki since he went ahead to contest the poll.

Mr Ranneberger reported to his superiors in Washington through the secret diplomatic cables that if President Kibaki stepped aside, Mr Musyoka was confident that he would receive the support the President enjoyed from Central Kenya and other parts of the country.

“If President Kibaki were to pull out, Mr Musyoka contended, he would receive much of the support President Kibaki had received (based on the traditional close ties between President Kibaki\’s Kikuyu community and Mr Musyoka\’s much smaller Kamba community),” Mr Ranneberger wrote at the time in what is detailed in the cable headlined: Kalonzo’s campaign strategy.”

The cable says Mr Musyoka was at the time sure he could not win the election and prepared to form a coalition government with President Kibaki in order to defeat Raila Odinga’s quest for the top job.

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“The bottom line is that Mr Musyoka realizes he has no chance to win the election this round and sees his campaign as a prelude to running again for President in 2012 – but at that time with support of the dominant Kikuyu community,” Mr Ranneberger wrote in the cable released on WikiLeaks on Thursday morning.

“This means that Mr Musyoka will support President Kibaki if it looks like he will win the election and be prepared to tilt the balance after the election through participation in a coalition government.

As the conversation developed, Mr Ranneberger wrote “it became clear that Mr Musyoka sees himself in the pivotal role of spoiler/kingmaker.  Having broken with Mr Odinga on bitter terms, he sees no possibility of working with him.”

"President Kibaki will need to form a coalition government if he is elected, and I am ready to participate," Mr Musyoka declared.

Mr Musyoka eventually cut a deal with President Kibaki and was named his Vice President.

It has also emerged that Mr Ranneberger told Washington that Mr Musyoka had confided in him that he was much more comfortable with President Kibaki winning another five-year term instead of having Mr Odinga as President.

Mr Ranneberger paints a grim picture of Mr Musyoka as a Presidential candidate who “offered nothing concrete, instead focusing on a litany of complaints about President Kibaki and the other main presidential aspirant, Raila Odinga (ODM).”

The cables reveals that Mr Musyoka had told Mr Ranneberger he feared that “if elected, “Mr Odinga would become another [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez because he was heavily influenced by socialism during his studies as a teenager in East Germany.”

“He also argued that the election of Mr Odinga would lead to substantial instability fomented by President Kibaki\’s ethnic Kikuyu supporters,” the dossier reveals.

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Mr Musyoka however, appears to have been confident of Mr Odinga’s reform agenda which was also largely supported and anticipated by the majority of youth across the country, but he feared it too had far reaching repercussions.

“The youth, Musyoka said, believe that an Odinga victory would be a "revolution" (in the sense of dramatic action against corruption and improvement in social services and other areas) and will be impatient for results,” Mr Ranneberger noted.

That notwithstanding, the Mwingi North MP was however, uncomfortable with Mr Odinga’s secret deal with Muslims which was signed in Mombasa.


During the private lunch meeting held at undisclosed location, Mr Ranneberger revealed that Mr Musyoka had expressed reservations about Mr Odinga’s campaign platform of “Majimboism” terming it as “irresponsible and dangerous because it is fanning tribal sentiments.”

In its populist version, Majimboism means extreme federalism verging on local autonomy with ethnic exclusivity.

Mr Musyoka was at the time campaigning on a platform of "economic Majimbo," emphasizing fair distribution of national resources, but not outright federalism, according to WikiLeaks.

But in Mr Ranneberger’s assessment, he concludes that: “Though Musyoka presents himself as a born-again Christian with the purest of political intentions, keen observers see Mr Musyoka as largely an opportunist interested primarily in advancing his political ambitions.”

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