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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Muthaura is 'shadow president' - Wikileaks

John Githongo could have rejoined the government if Raila Odinga had won the December 2007 presidential election, according to the latest Wikileaks cables. Other interesting revelations include a description of Francis Muthaura as "shadow president" and a positive assessment of Speaker Kenneth Marende.

A diplomatic cable dated June 4, 2008, expressed the disappointment of US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger that "the new coalition government has given some of the country's most egregious thieves a new lease on life and strengthened their already strong sense of impunity." After giving Washington a rundown on various politicians back in power, the ambassador also questioned Kamlesh Pattni's deal with Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission to hand over the Grand Regency Hotel in exchange for an amnesty over his failure to repay a 1993 Sh2.5 billion loan.

The ambassador expressed concern that a similar amnesty deal might be extended to Deepak Kamani, architect of the Anglo-Leasing scams who had been made ineligible for an American visa. The cable said that any such amnesty deals should be conducted transparently. "Githongo’s brother told Econ/C in mid-May that John Githongo had offered to join a Raila Odinga government had Odinga become president after the elections in late December. His sole condition was to be given free rein to implement such a transparent program of restitution and closure," said the cable. "Odinga is back in government as Prime Minister but his commitment to such a program is not known. Moreover there are credible indications that Odinga has close ties and receives support from some of the very corruption kingpins that would oppose an open system of restitution". However the cable said that Githongo was now "moving on" as Director of Policy at World Vision.

Another cable on April 2, 2009 said that Ranneberger had met NSIS boss Michael Gichangi, Foreign minister Moses Wetangula and Civil Service boss Francis Muthaura to "make clear US concern regarding insufficient action to advance implementation of the reform agenda". He expressed concern about extrajudicial killings and the Kenyan rejection of the American offer of FBI assistance to investigate the murders of two Oscar Foundation activists.

"Muthaura is considered to be virtually a 'shadow president' so much power does he wield", the cable states. "Muthaura argued that the reform agenda is in fact moving forward and was defensive on the specific issue of corruption" maintaining that having ODM and PNU ministers in each ministry had created "checks and balances".

"He stressed that President Kibaki is fully committed to 'fast tracking' implementation of the reform agenda in concert with PM Raila Odinga," the cable states. Ranneberger emphasised to Muthaura that a "right signal" would be to strengthen the legislation for a special local tribunal to try the 2007-08 post-election violence cases and make it more "independent and credible".

On April 27, 2009, Ranneberger sent a cable analysing the showdown over who should be the Leader of Government Business in Parliament. "Given that both sides have repeatedly demonstrated a propensity to miscalculate, a walkout from Parliament cannot be ruled out," said the cable. "It is also possible that if the two sides do not pull back, the crisis could slide towards the holding of new elections or a unilateral (but still constitutionally legitimate) government involving only Kibaki, his Party of National Unity, and Vice-President Musyoka", wrote Ranneberger.

The cable praised Speaker Kenneth Marende for trying to seek a compromise solution in the showdown. "Marende is on the hot seat. Since last year he has shown himself to be a man of principle who has run Parliament in an objective, non-partisan manner. Kibaki, Musyoka and Odinga have set up the crisis as a winner-take-all outcome, so there is little room for compromise".

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