Ambassador Donahoe: We are here today because the Human Rights Council is going to hold an urgent session on the human rights crisis in Syria. As you know, this is the second time we have been required to hold an exceptional session about the human rights situation in Syria in just the last few months.
I would like to make three quick points. One is about the human rights situation; second about the emerging international consensus on the loss of legitimacy of the Assad regime; and third, what do we expect as the outcome of today.
On the human rights situation, everyone knows that the human rights crisis has deteriorated significantly in the last few weeks. The High Commissioner for Human Rights has come out and indicated that there are credible allegations of systematic and widespread human rights violations that may amount to crimes against humanity.
The Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children in Armed Conflict has let us know there are credible allegations of torture of children.
We have credible allegations that Assad has used tanks. We have documentary evidence that they’ve used tanks, machine guns, grenades and snipers against peaceful protesters, human rights defenders, et cetera. Innocent civilians are being massacred.
I don’t think there’s any doubt in the mind of anyone that the situation has deteriorated significantly.
Second, we see an emerging consensus in the international community. There’s growing unity and resolve that Assad must go. He’s lost the legitimacy to rule the Syrian people. This special session that we are about to hold was called for by a strong majority of council members, well above the number we needed to call a special session.
Importantly, we have the support of four Arab neighbors of Syria — Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.
Secondly, as you all know, the Arab League has spoken out, the OIC has spoken out, the EU has spoken out to get Assad to stop the violence, and our President, President Obama, has asked Assad to step down and allow the Syrian people to move toward a peaceful future.
It is clear that Assad is isolated and I think today’s session will underscore that point.
What do we expect as an outcome? The purpose of today’s session is to increase pressure on the Assad regime, to get Assad to step down, and to allow the Syrian people to move forward.
The specific outcome we hope for is the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate facts on the ground in Syria and to bring the Syrian authorities who are responsible for the atrocities to account.
We believe the establishment of a COI is the gold standard in the human rights world and we think this will send a strong message to the Assad regime that the allegations against them are very serious.
With that, I’ll take a couple of questions.
Question: I’d like to have your reaction on what is happening [in Libya] yesterday and if it will reflect on this session today on Syria.
Ambassador Donahoe: The first comment is that every situation is different, and I do not want to draw direct conclusions about the situation in Syria from what has happened in Libya.
That said, I will say the indications overnight are somewhat hopeful about the situation in Libya. President Obama has recognized the TNC (Transitional National Council) as the legitimate authority in Libya. He has expressed hope that the TNC will continue to demonstrate leadership in moving the Libyan people to a democratic future.
Last, I will say, I have to comment that we did in February of this year hold a comparable special session on the crisis in Libya where we also established a Commission of Inquiry, and that Commission of Inquiry was able to enter Libya and to document atrocities by the Gadhafi regime. So in that sense it is relevant.
Question: What about the latest developments, your commentary about the latest developments of the situation in Libya with Gadhafi that is practically unchaining his tanks against Tripoli population?
Ambassador Donahoe: Could you repeat that question?
Question: What is your commentary about the latest developments of the situation in Libya, because Gadhafi is probably going down, but now is unchaining his tanks against the population as many agencies reported.
Ambassador Donahoe: First off the facts on the ground in Libya are changing moment by moment and I do not want to get ahead of the story. The indications we have are that there is the prospect that it’s moving in a positive direction. However, Gadhafi has made manifest his brutality against his people for the last number of months, so we cannot let our guard down and assume that that’s over.
Question: Does the U.S. support the call for the Security Council on Syria, the Security Council to seize the ICC, to refer the matter of Syria to the ICC?
Ambassador Donahoe: First off, the United States absolutely supports accountability for the Syrian atrocities against the Syrian people. That’s the first thing. We would support either having that accountability take place in institutions in a new democratic Syria if possible, or in the appropriate international bodies.
I will say that today at the Human Rights Council we are not authorized to call for a move to the ICC. However, as it moves to the Security Council I am sure that everyone will take up the allegations very seriously.
I thank the Chairman and Senator Lugar for inviting me today. I appreciate this chance to update the committee on our efforts and answer your questions.
During my last appearance, I reviewed for the committee the developments that led up to the international community’s engagement in Libya. Colonel Qadhafi met the peaceful protests of his own people with violence. When the UN Security Council, the Arab League, and the United States all demanded that atrocities must end, Qadhafi responded with a promise to show ―no mercy and no pity.
We quickly reached two important conclusions. First, we would not stand by as Qadhafi brutalized his own people. Second, Qadhafi had lost the legitimacy to lead, and he had to go to allow the Libyan people to reclaim their own future.
And so we assembled an international coalition of European and Arab allies with a clear, limited mission to enforce UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 and protect the Libyan people. We offered our unique military capabilities early on and then turned over full command and control responsibility to a NATO-led coalition. Three-quarters of the over 6,000 sorties flown in Libya have now been by non-US coalition partners, a share that has increased. All twenty ships enforcing the arms embargo are European or Canadian. And the overwhelming majority of strike sorties are now being flown by our European allies. We are proud of our continuing contribution and grateful as our allies increasingly carry the burden.
As the coalition continues to carry out its best efforts to protect Libya’s civilian population, we continue to pursue three tracks on the political and economic front: pressuring and isolating Qadhafi; supporting the Libyan people in determining their own future; and delivering humanitarian aid.
First, we are working to escalate the pressure, deepen Qadhafi’s isolation and convince those around him that Libya’s future lies elsewhere.
The international community is increasingly united around a shared insistence that Qadhafi must go. Last week’s Contact Group – with the participation of 22 nations and representatives from the UN, Arab League, NATO, EU, OIC and GCC—issued its most forceful statement yet, including that ―Qadhafi, his family and his regime have lost all legitimacy. They must go so that the Libyan people can determine their own future.‖ Turkey, once an important partner to Qadhafi’s Libya, has now joined the chorus of nations demanding that he leave immediately. The British, Italians and French are expelling Qadhafi’s diplomats, as we did in March. And we are urging other nations to refuse their visits unless Qadhafi’s envoys are either defecting or coming to discuss his departure.
We are taking a wide range of steps to send a clear, forceful message to Qadhafi and those around him that there is no going back to the way things were. They now face a no-fly zone, an arms embargo, asset freezes, and travel bans. Libya’s National Oil Corporation and central bank are blacklisted. The United States and other countries are also taking further unilateral steps to tighten the squeeze on regime officials and regime-affiliated banks, businesses and satellite networks. This week, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced that he intends to apply for arrest warrants for three senior officials in Qadhafi’s regime ―who bear the greatest criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity.
These measures are having an effect. We have deprived the regime of funds and assets that could be used to support attacks against the Libyan people. Libya used to export 1.3 million barrels of oil per day. That has stopped, and the regime is having difficulty accessing refined petroleum. There are some indications that the regime can no longer afford to pay supporters to attend rallies and demonstrations. The longer international sanctions stay in place, the more the pressure will mount.
Second, we are supporting the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people, who deserve a successful transition to democracy just as much as their neighbors in Egypt and Tunisia.
Last time I testified, there were a great many questions about the makeup and intentions of the Libyan opposition. Our envoy, Chris Stevens, has been in Benghazi for several weeks now and has held meetings with a wide range of Libyan opposition members, including but not limited to the Transitional National Council (TNC). Secretary Clinton has met three times with Libyan opposition leaders and urged others to do the same. Several of you met with TNC leader Mahmoud Jibirl, including Chairman Kerry, yesterday. I will host him and his delegation at the State Department on Friday and he will meet National Security Advisor Tom Donilon at the White House Friday afternoon as well. Though it will be important to ensure that words are matched by actions, we have been encouraged by the TNC’s public statements on democracy, treatment of prisoners, human rights and terrorism. We have continued to stress the importance of the TNC distancing itself from extremists who could seek to hijack the popular movement, and we have been pleased by the clear view of the TNC leadership rejecting extremism and calling for tolerant democracy.
As we have gotten to know the Libyan opposition, we have stepped up our political, financial and non-lethal military support. As we notified Congress, we are providing up to $25 million for the provision of non-lethal items to the TNC. The carefully-chosen list includes medical supplies, boots, tents, rations and personal protective gear. The first shipment, 10,000 MREs, arrived on Tuesday.
The TNC has also requested urgent financial assistance. The Treasury Department has published new rules to remove sanctions on oil sales that will benefit the TNC. In Rome, the Libya Contact Group created a Temporary Financial Mechanism to provide transparent financial assistance to the opposition. Kuwait has already committed to contribute $180 million.
As Secretary Clinton said in Rome, we hope to work quickly with Congress to begin unfreezing Libyan government assets to meet pressing humanitarian needs. On Wednesday, we continued our consultations with Congress and shared our proposal. The bill authorizes the President to vest Libyan government property within the jurisdiction of the United States and use it for costs related to humanitarian relief to and for the benefit of the Libyan people. We see this legislation as addressing unique circumstances in Libya for limited, humanitarian purposes. This money belongs to the Libyan people, and it should serve the Libyan people.
Third, protecting civilians remains at the core of our mission. We are engaged in robust humanitarian efforts to help those in need inside Libya and those who have fled the violence. Our government is providing more than $53 million in humanitarian assistance, which helps to evacuate and repatriate third-country nationals, care for refugees on Libya’s borders and deliver food and medicine. The international community has already contributed, committed or pledged $245 million. We continue to look for additional ways to support humanitarian operations in response to the Libyan crisis.
Unfortunately, the Qadhafi regime has tried to block the delivery of desperately-needed humanitarian assistance. The brave people of Misrata have withstood a month-long siege as well as repeated incursions, assaults and atrocities. Qadhafi has blocked water, gas, and electricity. And this week, his regime laid anti-ship mines in Misrata’s harbor in a failed attempt to block humanitarian aid and medical evacuations. What has happened in Misrata is an outrage. Despite Qadhafi’s best efforts, we have now established a safe route for assistance to reach Misrata and its people.
We salute the determination and resilience of the Libyan people in and around Misrata. We are inspired by the way they have stepped forward to protect and care for their neighbors who managed to escape from areas under attack. We are also proud that NGOs we fund have provided much needed medical personnel and supplies to these cities, despite Qadhafi’s attacks.
Qadhafi knows what he needs to do. The violence must end and the threats must stop. His troops must withdraw from the cities they have entered. Humanitarian goods must be allowed to move freely and vital services must be restored. Qadhafi must go to allow the people of Libya to chart their own future.
Our approach is one that has succeeded before. In Kosovo, we built an international coalition around a narrow civilian protection mission. Even after Milosevic withdrew his forces and the bombing stopped, the political and economic pressure continued. Within two years, Milosevic was thrown out of office and turned over to The Hague.
I understand the desire for quick results, and of course I share it. But history teaches us that patience and persistence can pay off. We have already seen international pressure change the calculations of some of Qadhafi’s closest advisors, who have defected. It is impossible to predict which step will tip the balance.
The way forward is not easy. It will take sustained effort. And it will take continued close consultation with Congress.
We know what needs to happen. And so we are using as many tools and levers as we can to bring about our ultimate objective: the end of Qadhafi’s rule and a new beginning for a peaceful, democratic Libya.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me start by saying as strongly as I can that the United States and the American people support the aspirations and rights of the Libyan people. They are clearly sending as strong a message as they are capable of doing that it is time for Qadhafi to go. We think he must go as soon as possible without further bloodshed and violence.
We are also very conscious of the actions that have been taken against the Libyan people by the Qadhafi regime. And the Security Council resolution passed unanimously yesterday makes clear there will be accountability for crimes against humanity and war crimes and other atrocities that are being perpetrated against the Libyan people, including a referral to the International Criminal Court. And I want to underscore this unanimous message from the Security Council to those who are around Qadhafi that you will be held accountable for the actions that are being taken and have been taken against your own people.
The Security Council resolution yesterday was part of a concerted effort that the United States has been lining up and implementing over the last days, both for unilateral and multilateral action. And we will continue to pursue steps aggressively that we believe will make a difference. Obviously, the Security Council resolution, which was passed in record time and included countries that are often reluctant to empower the international community to take such actions, sends a strong, unmistakable signal. The specifics that go to targeted sanctions and arms embargo and other measures are exactly what we have been looking toward and wanting to achieve in this period.
It also opens the door for humanitarian relief, which is going to be essential – the numbers of people fleeing across the borders, particularly into Tunisia and Egypt, where those two countries are facing huge humanitarian demands, plus internally displaced people.
There’s also a strong message in the Security Council resolution to countries in the region: You must stop mercenaries, you must stop those who may be going to Libya either at the behest or opportunistically to engage in violence or other criminal acts. And we will be working closely with those neighboring countries to ensure that they do so.
This change that is sweeping across the region is coming from inside societies. It is not coming from the outside. But each country is different, and each country must deal with the demands of their own people and pursue paths that will lead toward change.
The United States supports those who are pursuing the path of reform. In particular, His Majesty King Hamad of Bahrain and His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan are engaged in meaningful outreach and efforts to try to bring about the change that will be in line with the needs of the people of their countries. So this is a period of great historical challenge and opportunity, and the United States will be pursuing actions and policies that we believe are in the best interests of the United States and also in the best interests of the region and the world.
I’ll be glad to take a few questions.
QUESTION: What do you hope to achieve at the Human Rights Council in Geneva? What is the purpose?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there are a number of reasons why this is turning into a significant meeting. I will be meeting with many of my counterparts from Europe and beyond to discuss ways that we can better coordinate and organize in meeting the expectations laid down by the Security Council, and thinking through how we can respond to the needs of the Libyan people not only in a humanitarian way but in a political and civil response as they try to sort through how they’re going to organize themselves post-Qadhafi.
I will also be speaking at the Human Rights Council. We made a determination in this Administration to join the Human Rights Council. I think it’s proven to be a good decision because we’ve been able to influence a number of actions that we otherwise would have been on the outside looking in. There are a number of issues on that agenda that we will be working on. I will also go to the Conference on Disarmament because we continue to press for further action in accordance with President Obama’s Prague agenda. So it will be a very busy, exhausting day, but a very fruitful one for me to be there.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, there’s reports that there’s – the former justice minister has set up his interim government in Benghazi. Has the U.S. had any contact with them? Do you think that’s a viable sort of bridging mechanism?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are just at the beginning of what will follow Qadhafi. First we have to see the end of his regime with no further violence and bloodshed, which is a big challenge in front of all of us. But we’ve been reaching out to many different Libyans who are attempting to organize in the east and as the revolution moves westward there as well. I think it’s way too soon to tell how this is going to play out, but we’re going to be ready and prepared to offer any kind of assistance that anyone wishes to have from the United States.
QUESTION: Now that President Obama has said that he should leave, have there been talks with other countries about where he would go? Who would take him?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we want him to leave and we want him to end his regime and call off the mercenaries and those troops that remain loyal to him. How he manages that is obviously up to him and to his family. But we have consistently in many conversations over the last week sent messages, and along with partners in the region and beyond have made it clear we expect him to leave. But we’re not involved in any kind of negotiation with him over that.
QUESTION: Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER WETANGULA: Good afternoon, gentlemen and ladies from the media. I’m happy to be here this afternoon with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who jetted in last evening to attend the AGOA Forum. After the opening of the forum, where you all were, she’s had very in-depth bilateral discussions with President Mwai Kibaki, who was accompanied by the Right Honorable Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, and a number of Kenyan ministers.
Several issues were discussed, including but not limited to the bilateral relations between Kenya and America. The two sides agreed that we are satisfied with the level of engagement between our two countries, and we shall strive to make it even better.
The Secretary of State raised issues about our engagement in Somalia to make the Horn of Africa safer. We also discussed the issue of internal reforms within Kenya, the need to have a new constitution, which the president had mentioned in his speech, the reform of the police force and other security organs, the issue of dealing with the post-election violence arising from the elections of last year but one.
We also discussed the issues of travel bans or other travel advisories between America and Kenya, where they’re renewed every other time. We raised the issue of piracy and the need for America to partner with other countries involved in the war against piracy to make the Indian Ocean shipping route safer.
President Kibaki and his team assured the Secretary of State that reforms are on course, that the war against impunity in the country is on, that the war against corruption is on, and all sanctuaries of corruption will be destroyed to make Kenya a cleaner and safer place to do business, that Kenya is committed to its role in the region as a leader, to bring normalcy to Somalia, to continue assisting the Sudan, and all other neighbors that require our assistance. And above all, President Kibaki conveyed his gratitude to the American Government led by President Obama, and the continued positive support to the country, and confirmed that Kenya will do everything possible to play its role within the community of nations.
Kenya also did raise – and the Secretary of State has assured the President and his team that she’ll look at it – the question of our benefitting from the Millennium Challenge Account, which you know Kenya is at the threshold level. We wanted it to be looked at and see if it can be raised to the comeback level. And finally, we have agreed that our relationship is historical, it’s strong, it must be made stronger, we must be open to each other, we must continue talking to each other candidly, and whenever criticism comes our way, we must take it as a positive step towards improving our relations and not as a reverse to this relationship. And we have left the meeting all happy and satisfied that that is the direction to go.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much. It is a pleasure to be here with the foreign minister. I thank him for the work he has done in preparation for my meetings, and I’m very grateful for the hospitality that your country has shown me and my delegation.
The United States and Kenya share a long and deep history of friendship and cooperation. We consider Kenya a key strategic partner, a regional leader, and a nation of almost boundless potential. I have just come from a candid and wide-ranging conversation with the president, the prime minister, the vice president, and other ministers of the government where we discussed, in depth, the steps that are needed to realize that potential and to seize the opportunities that I discussed in my speech earlier.
The United States worked hard last year with Kofi Annan and the team of African Eminent Persons to support the Kenyan people to resolve the crisis that afflicted this country. Unfortunately, resolving that crisis has not yet translated into the kind of political progress that the Kenyan people deserve. Instead, the absence of strong and effective democratic institutions has permitted ongoing corruption, impunity, politically motivated violence, human rights abuses, and a lack of respect for the rule of law.
These conditions helped fuel the post-election violence, and they are continuing to hold Kenya back. The reform agenda agreed to by the coalition government and discussed in the speech that President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga gave this morning must be fully implemented not just to avoid a repeat of the previous crisis or worse, but more importantly, to set the stage for a better future, a future worthy of the dynamic people of this country, a future of economic growth, democratic development, social justice, and the opportunity for every Kenyan child to live up to his or her God-given potential. I wanted the leaders to know that we respect greatly the way that the Kenyan people pulled their country back from the brink of disaster once, and the ongoing connection between the private sector, civil society, and the government that is the key to resolving these issues.
I also want the government and the people of Kenya to know that President Obama feels a personal connection and commitment to the future of Kenya. It is, of course, a result of his own personal connection, his father’s life. But it is also because, as he said in the video this morning, he has such a great deal of affection and admiration for Kenya. He has come to this country, the first time in the late 1980s, and of course, shortly before he began running for president. We want you to know that we will stand with you. We know that democracy does not come easily. It hasn’t come easily to the United States or any country. We have our own challenges. But we have worked for more than 230 years to perfect our union, and we know we have more work to do. The election of President Obama demonstrates that progress is possible. And I can personally attest that political rivals can become productive partners in the service of the country and the people they love.
We also know that a lot of that hard work is underway. And we commend the Waki Commission’s efforts to identify steps to improve the performance and accountability of state security agencies.
But finally, we know that just as President Obama said in his speech in Ghana that the future of Africa is up to the African people, the future of Kenya is up to the Kenyan people. The United States stands ready and willing and eager to be of assistance to build on the more than 50 years of partnership and friendship we have between us. And despite the setbacks of the recent past and the difficult road ahead, President Obama and I are convinced that the leaders of this nation have the capacity to reclaim the dream of one Kenya. Now is the time to find and exercise the will, and we will be there with you as you take these steps toward that better future of one Kenya.
Thank you very much.
FOREIGN MINISTER WETANGULA: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you. Madame Secretary, my name is Jeff Koinange. I work for a TV station called K24. This question is directed at you. As soon as you landed last night, there was a statement from the U.S. Government criticizing Kenya’s latest move to appoint a TJRC, Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, in other words, opting to go their own way and not opting to go for a special local tribunal to try the perpetrators of the post-election violence.
Well, basically, the TRC has no powers to try anybody. What more pressure can your government keep applying to the Kenyan Government to make sure that those perpetrators are eventually arrested, detained, whatever, so that, as you mentioned, we don’t limp towards 2012, knowing that those folks are still out there and nothing has been done? What more can be done?
And I have a follow-up.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Do you want to ask your follow-up, and I’ll answer both.
QUESTION: Sure, okay. I’m sorry, yeah. The follow-up is a country right next door, Sudan, there’s a warmonger who has been indicted by the ICC. Nobody seems to be doing anything about it in terms of putting pressure for him to either face justice or whatever. Is it because their country has natural resources like oil, or because they’re dealing with the Chinese it’s a very sensitive situation? In other words, is it sort of a double standard? A lot of pressure being applied on the Kenya Government, no pressure being applied on Sudan, and yet very little is being done both ways.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me take your second question first, because I think that it is very significant that a criminal indictment was returned by the International Criminal Court against President Bashir. And that was a very significant step by the international community. The actions by the ICC sent a clear message that the behavior of Bashir and his government were outside the bounds of accepted standards and that there would no longer be impunity.
Now, just as in a criminal process, the indictment has been laid down. The United States and others have continued to support the need to eventually bring President Bashir to justice, but he’s found a lot of protectors, and mostly in this continent, where people have allowed him to travel and have not used the forces of their own judicial and law enforcement institutions to arrest him, to turn him over the ICC.
We know this sometimes takes time. If you look at some of the international tribunals, there are periods of time during which the investigation takes place, if it does get started – in this case, it did – then if an indictment is returned, there is often time before the person indicted is brought to justice.
So I actually think that what has happened in Sudan sends a very strong message. And of course, one of the reasons why the United States and other friends of Kenya are encouraging Kenya to handle this internally is so that it is not sent to the ICC. The ICC won’t act if a country is dealing with internal problems on its own.
And with respect to your first question, the ministers explained to me that there is a constitutional impediment to creating a local tribunal outside the ordinary judicial system, and that there is required to be a constitutional amendment in order to create a local tribunal, which has not passed the Kenyan parliament. I think that is regrettable because, obviously, the government has come up with this constitutional amendment, and there are reasons why it is preferable to the Truth and Justice and Reconciliation Commission because it would have the ability to actually prosecute perpetrators.
We have made our views known. As you referenced, a statement from our ambassador summarized those views. I know this is not easy. I understand how complicated this is. It’s complicated, in part, because politically how do you go about prosecuting the perpetrators without engendering more violence from those who are supportive of the positions or the affiliations of the perpetrators. So it does take a lot of political will and leadership.
And we continue to believe that a special local tribunal is in the best interest of Kenya, so as to avoid having outsiders determine the outcome here. But as you know, Kofi Annan and the people working with him have handed a sealed envelope of ten names to the ICC, which has a lot on its plate. It’s not acting immediately, of course, because I think there is still the hope that Kenya will resolve this matter on its own, and that is certainly the American hope as well.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary. If you don’t mind going a little bit outside Africa for a moment. On North Korea, the two journalists were released. From your conversations with your husband, with former President Clinton, what’s the signal that he gets and what’s the impression he gets from Kim Jong-il? Is North Korea ready to go back into the denuclearization talks? And could you also confirm, the North Koreans say that there was an apology on behalf of former President Clinton?
SECRETARY CLINTON: The last question is that’s not true, that did not occur. But let me just take a step back here and say that we have been working hard on the release of the two journalists. We have always considered that a totally separate issue from our efforts to reengage the North Koreans and have them return to the Six-Party Talks and work toward a commitment for the full, verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
I was very pleased to get the news that my husband’s plane had taken off from Pyongyang with the two young women onboard. They are on their way to California, where they will be reunited with their families.
I had a very brief conversation with my husband. We did not go into the details of some of the questions that you’re asking. There’ll be time to talk about that later. This was mostly just to communicate directly how relieved and pleased he was, and we are, with the successful completion of this mission.
As I said in a long set of remarks in Thailand about two weeks ago, the future of our relationships with the North Koreans are really up to them. They have a choice. They can continue to follow a path that is filled with provocative actions which further isolates them from the international community, which resulted in the imposition of sanctions by the Security Council and the full cooperation of the international community, including and led by China for the implementation of those sanctions under the resolution. Or they can decide to renew their discussions with the partners in the Six-Party Talks. We have always said that there would be a chance to discuss bilateral matters with the North Koreans within that regional context, and that is still the offer today. So it is up to them.
I mean, we have successfully completed a humanitarian mission that was a private mission that was undertaken by my husband, and we’re very relieved about that. But now we have to go back to the ongoing efforts to try to enlist the North Koreans in discussions that the world wants to see them participate in.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) from NTV in Kenya. Secretary Clinton, I’ve got a couple of questions for you. Firstly, you said that in your discussion about the TRJC and the local tribunal, the government did indicate to you that they are unable to pass it through parliament. Is this not, in fact, hypocrisy on the part of the Kenyan Government, because in the past year they’ve been able to pass other constitutional bills through parliament? And when it comes to local tribunals, it’s proving to be harder. Is it not, in fact, (inaudible) vested interests in government that are doing that?
Number two, are you, as the U.S. Government, considering visa bans or other sanctions against those suspected to have masterminded the post-election violence?
And finally, critics say that President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have become cozy, relaxed, and slackened the pace of reforms, reforms you talked about with them today. What is your government actually doing to ensure that they keep their eye on the ball and that these reforms, including the constitutional reforms of the judicial and the security forces and whatever else you talked about, do actually come to pass for the benefit of Kenya?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I can only report to you what the president, the prime minister, the vice president, and the other ministers told us: that they are committed to the reform agenda that they agreed to when they entered into a coalition government; that they believe they are getting close to a constitutional draft that would answer some of the difficult questions that Kenyans are looking for, like land reform and the like; that they are proceeding with police and judicial reform despite some setbacks which they recounted to me.
We very much want to support them in moving this agenda forward, and I made that abundantly clear. I delivered a very frank statement from President Obama that he also would like to do everything we can to see this reform agenda delivered on. And I think the Kenyan Government knows that if we can be of any help, we stand ready to do so. We’ve made that offer.
I think that it’s difficult for someone who’s not in the Kenyan political process to comment on the actions of the Kenyan parliament. We have enough trouble with our own Congress in Washington, where we have a very big Democratic majority, but the President doesn’t always get what he wants to have done the first time out.
But I wanted publicly to say that to members of parliament trying to resolve this issue internally is far preferable to losing control of it and seeing it go to the International Criminal Court or out of the hands of Kenyans themselves. As hard as it is to resolve this in Kenya, I think it is better for Kenyans. So certainly, if parliamentarians are watching your news programs, it would be in the best interest of the future of Kenya for that to be taken care of within the parliament.
And finally, with respect to any actions that our government might take, those are always available and open to us. We hope that that doesn’t come to pass. We very much want to see the coalition government succeed. We want to see the reforms passed.
And finally, on the question about whether the president and the prime minister are getting along, I think that’s a good sign. I know when I accepted President Obama’s request to take this position, many people said, oh, it will never work, that there’ll be all these problems. And in fact, we are working very closely and personally together. That doesn’t mean, in this context with the president and the prime minister, that they still don’t have issues that they have to work on.
But you won’t get anything done if people don’t cooperate and if people don’t have a personal relationship. I mean, politics around the world depends upon relationships. You can’t get things done if people don’t have a level of trust between themselves in order to take some very tough decisions. And so I’m hoping that the kind of interaction that I had today with the president and the prime minister, which was very positive, very frank, very open, is indicative of continuing progress on behalf of this important agenda.
MODERATOR: Okay. The final question –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Wait, how about the foreign minister? Would you like to add anything, sir?
FOREIGN MINISTER WETANGULA: Yes. I think I should. (Inaudible) and all my Kenyan colleagues here know the level of reforms that we are undertaking. And I want to assure you that in a democracy, even if you have the majority in parliament, it is very dangerous and risky to marshal parliament to do what you want. You must let them vote with their conscience, and our parliamentarians have indicated to you and the whole country that this is their preference.
What we must do, and I think it’s important that Kenya must do, is not to lose sight of the reform of the constitution – create strong institutions that will make it difficult for the events of last year to occur again in this country. I think that, as a long-term measure, is very critical.
Secondly, on the question of persons that bear the greatest responsibility for the problems of last year, the route to The Hague has never been closed. It is always there. The envelope is there, and we don’t need to give any concern for the ICC to act. But I’ve always said, and I think the Secretary of State has reiterated, that it’s neater, it’s better, it’s in the interest of this country for us to resolve most of our issues locally than to seek international support. And I do think that the avenue for prosecution, even through the current criminal system – criminal justice system, is not closed. If adequate reforms are made that meet the confidence of the public, I think people can still be prosecuted locally.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And I would just add it would be a very welcome sign to see prosecution through the regular court system. That would be an appropriate response.
FOREIGN MINISTER WETANGULA: Absolutely.
MODERATOR: The final question, Washington Post, Mary Beth Sheridan.
QUESTION: Thank you. This is a question for Secretary Clinton. What do you make of the fact that nobody accused in this violence has been punished in a year and a half – Kenya has a very long culture of never punishing any top officials – and that the very ministers who are suspected of instigating the violence are the ones that killed the possibility of the independent tribunal? How can you have any faith in them on this issue? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we’ve made it very clear that we are waiting, we are disappointed that action hasn’t taken place yet. Our Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson, who served as an ambassador here and has a great deal of regard for Kenya, has spoken out. Our ambassador has spoken out. I mean, we’ve been very clear in our disappointment that action has not been taken. And of course, it is far preferable that it be done in the regular course of business that prosecutors, judges, law enforcement officials step up to their responsibilities and remove the question of impunity.
We in the United States sometimes go to having special tribunals, special prosecutors for certain politically connected wrongdoing, and so we know that trying to create another entity may be appropriate. But if it can’t get created, then you’ve got to go back to the system you have. And a truth and justice and reconciliation commission without any ability to bring people to justice is not going to satisfy many of the deepest concerns that are expressed by the Kenyan people.
And I’m not understating, or I don’t mean to underestimate, the difficulty of doing this, of creating some kind of pathway for holding people accountable. But in today’s world, where information is communicated instantaneously, people are no longer going to put up with that. You can find information out so easily by people Twittering and otherwise communicating that governments have to be more transparent and governments have to be more accountable. And I used that phrase that I very much like in my speech that sunlight is the best disinfectant; bring it out and try to resolve it. Now does that mean everybody has to be prosecuted right away? Well, there probably has to be some process put in place, but there needs to be a beginning. And I think that’s what we are looking for, and that’s what we’re hoping to see from the current government.
FOREIGN MINISTER WETANGULA: Thank you. Finally, let me say something about the issue Jeff Koinage raised on the Sudan. First of all, I don’t think it is true that America is harsher to Kenya than it is to Sudan. But on the issue of the indictment of President Bashir, the African Union took a position, and the position is very clear and we have articulated it many times. One, the AU does not and has not and will not say that President Bashir is innocent, because we have no capacity to say that. He has been investigated, he has been indicted.
What the AU asked the Security Council to do was that within the context of Article 16 of the Statute of Rome, the Security Council could suspend the warrant for a year because there was visible progress in Sudan, that there was internal discussions, there were talks going on in Qatar, and we wanted to see whether that texture can bring relative calm and peace in the country, because we do know that peace, security, stability and all these factors must be looked at within the same context. And nobody will stand in the way of President Bashir being arrested and prosecuted, but for now, the AU’s position is that let’s see what internal mechanisms can be done. I don’t think the AU is asking for too much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Somalia? Well, we had a very long discussion about Somalia.
FOREIGN MINISTER WETANGULA: Yes, it took the centerpiece of the discussions.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. And we very much appreciate Kenya’s efforts working on its own and with the international community. We recognize the border problems that Kenya has with its long border with Somalia. We certainly offered whatever help and assistance we could provide to Kenya to deal with the border, the refugee flow, which Kenya is trying to absorb 6,000 refugees and –
FOREIGN MINISTER WETANGULA: Ten thousand a month.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Ten thousand a month. So Kenya’s bearing a big burden for the instability and violence within Somalia. The United States is supporting the Transitional Federal Government. I’ll be meeting with Sheikh Sharif tomorrow to discuss what else the international community can do to try to support his efforts to stabilize Somalia, to create a functioning government. But we know we’re facing a very difficult conflict, and we also know that the presence of al-Shabaab and terrorist elements within Somalia poses a threat. It poses a threat to Kenya, poses a threat to the stability of Africa and beyond. So this is an area where we’re going to work even more closely together.
And on another area, piracy, I would just say that Kenya, again, is absorbing a lot of the burden from the international community. Kenya offered to receive the pirates, to hold the pirates. They need more help in doing that. The United States is leading an international contact group on piracy. We want to provide more assistance to Kenya, which is offering this very important service.
So we talked a lot about the work that Kenya is doing within the regional and global security context, which is absolutely invaluable.
FOREIGN MINISTER WETANGULA: Thank you very much, Secretary of State, and have a good afternoon.
VICE CHANCELLOR MAGOHA: Secretary Clinton, your Excellencies, Dr. Sally Kosgey, the minister for education, science, and technology, Chancellor Wanjui, PS higher education, Your Excellencies, invited guests, participants, ladies, and gentlemen, on behalf of the University of Nairobi and on my own behalf, I warmly welcome you all to the university and to this open dialogue forum. The University of Nairobi wishes for very successful and rewarding event. Thank you very much.
I now invite Honorable Dr. Sally Kosgey, the minister for higher education, to invite Secretary Clinton. (Applause.)
MINISTER KOSGEY: Secretary of State of the United States of America, congressmen – my friend, Congressman Payne, your Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen, I’m pleased to welcome you to the University of Nairobi.
May I salute you, Madame Secretary, for visiting Kenya and our continent so early in your new Administration. Half a century ago, a young, democratic government in the United States of America initiated the airlift program to assist an emerging Kenya address its intellectual capacity needs to run a new republic. This initiative led to other generous contributions by U.S. philanthropists and institutions. Many Kenyans have contributed and continue to contribute to the development of Kenya, who are beneficiaries of these initiatives from the United States of America. Today, many Kenyans of all generations continue to share values with the people of your country with reference to economic and political developments.
Madame Secretary, a few years ago, Kenya initiated a free universal primary education. Much has been done to make secondary education also free. We salute your country for your contributions to this sector. However, funding for higher education and also for science and technology remains low, yet we are aware that this sector is essential for development. We hope the United States of America will continue to support us in this field and work with us in enhancing and deepening the higher education and science and technology sector. We are particularly keen on targeted cooperation in science and technology and research for development.
Madame Secretary, the last time there was such a large gathering to hear a visitor at this university was on the occasion of a visit by a senator from Illinois who came here – (applause) – who came here to share his vision with young Kenyans. He definitely captured the imagination of many, and I’m pleased that today, you have found an opportunity to share with young Kenyans in your interactions the views and aspirations of all Kenyans and relations with the United States.
Madame Secretary, I want to emphasize once more that we are pleased to see you here; we are pleased that you have chosen to come to Kenya at the beginning of your official visit as the Secretary of State. Now, I want to hand over to Beatrice Marshall. Where are you?
MS. MARSHALL: Dr. Sally Kosgey, Minister – thank you very much indeed, Dr. Sally Kosgey, Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology. Now, welcome to this open forum. U.S. President Barack Obama was in Africa recently with a powerful message to a hopeful continent. He said, and I quote, “Countries like Kenya which had a per capita economy larger than South Korea’s when I was born have been badly outpaced. In my father’s life, it was partly tribalism and patronage in an independent Kenya that, for a long stretch, derailed his career.” End of quote.
Now given his Kenyan lineage, millions of Kenyans are expectantly looking to the President of the United States, a leader of the free world, to help in breaking our unique chains of poverty and underdevelopment. But the question is: Are these expectations realistic? Today, Kenyan youth and civil society have a rare opportunity to engage the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
But first, before we field those questions to Secretary Clinton, I’ll hand you over to my colleague, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
MR. ZAKARIA: Thank you, Beatrice. Thank you, all of you, for hosting this event, the University of Nairobi, the Government of Kenya, and of course, most importantly, thank you to Madame Secretary, the Secretary of State of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton. For all of those of you outside this hall, we are coming to you from Nairobi, a unique town hall being hosted by the University of Nairobi with a very special guest, the Secretary of State of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Madame Secretary, let me ask you a few questions to get us started and to let people get a sense of the kind of questions they should feel free to ask. You spoke a great deal when you have been in Kenya about the need for the reform agenda to be implemented, for the investigation and prosecution of post-election violence to take place, and you used language that was surprisingly frank, some people thought even tough.
In your conversations with Kenyan leaders – you met with all the senior leaders – did you get any assurances that things are moving in the right direction? Because so far, most external observers believe that they are not.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Fareed, I want to get to that because that’s a very important question, and I noticed the sign as I was driving into the university, “This is a corruption-free zone,” and I think that – (applause) – I think that the goal of the university and the young people here – civil society, many members of the private sector, and of course, reformers within government at all levels – is to expand that zone to cover the entire country and to provide the opportunity for people – (applause) – to have a chance to go as far as their hard work and talents will take them.
And I also really want to echo my thanks to the minister and to the chancellor and all the dignitaries here on the stage with us, and particularly to this great university, which has such a reputation for excellence not only in Africa, but beyond the continent. And of course, it is a pleasure to be at the university where now-President Obama came as a senator and delivered a very strong message even then. How many of you were here when President Obama, then-Senator Obama, arrived?
Well, I reread his speech and I just wanted to begin my response to Fareed’s very important question by reading the last paragraph of then-Senator, now President Obama’s speech at this university in 2006: “In today’s Kenya, it is that courage that will bring the reform so many of you desperately want and deserve. I wish all of you luck in finding this courage in the days and months to come, and I want you to know that as your ally, your friend, and your brother, I will be there to help in any way I can.” And the message that I delivered in public and in private was a message directly from President Obama. He cares deeply about this country. And it is very touching and moving to me to see the feelings of kinship and relationship that exists between the people of Kenya and our President.
So the question truly goes to the heart of the matter. The reform agenda is imperative for Kenya’s future to unlock the potential to fulfill the promise that Beatrice told us came from President Obama’s speech in Ghana, where he said something which students of economics know – that in the early 1960s, at the time of independence, smart investors bet on African countries like Kenya, and wrote off countries like South Korea. The argument was that Kenya had the infrastructure, it had the education, it had people with a sense of the future; it had fought a struggle for liberation.
And now, as President Obama pointed out in his speech in Ghana, the fact is that Kenya has not fulfilled its economic promise, and I believe, in part, because it hasn’t yet realized fully what it means to have a functioning, dynamic democracy, and a free press and an independent judiciary, and a sense of future gains from present-day sacrifice among the people who have run the country. The people of Kenya work very hard and the professional people in Kenya are among the best in the world. The private sector is dynamic. The government has to reform itself if Kenya will be all it can be.
That is the message that President Obama and I have delivered. It is tough, but it’s also lovingly presented. President Obama very much wants the people of Kenya to be the leaders of a reform movement that will deliver results for the people of Kenya, and where no one will any longer say that, as someone said to me just yesterday – the common parlance tragically summed up is, if you have a problem in Kenya, why hire a lawyer when you can buy a judge? (Laughter.)
So yes, we want to see the reform agenda because we know that it’s not just the violence after the election, but it is an accumulation of decisions that are not in the best interests of the people of Kenya. And the leadership with whom I met said that the constitutional reform will be coming forward – I hope it does – that police and judicial reform will be coming forward, and of course, the big question about how to end corruption and impunity in public service.
And I have urged that the Kenyan Government try to find the way forward to handle this themselves, but if that is not possible, and people think it is not, then the names that have been turned over to the International Court of Criminal Justice will be opened, and an investigation will begin, and Kenya will not be making these very tough decisions for itself, which is a kind of rite of passage for democracies, dealing with people and making sure impunity is not permitted.
So I hope and I pray that whatever route is taken, it leads to the reforms that are so necessary for this great country. And I’m joined in that by Congressman Donald Payne and Congresswoman Nita Lowey, who are with me; Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson, who was once our ambassador here; and of course, our current serving ambassador. All of us bring this message from President Obama.
MR. ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about one part of it you talked about, which is the potential for the names of the alleged perpetrators of the post-election violence to be sent to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. This is something the Kenyan National Commission of Human Rights has recommended in the report that came out last month. Does it hinder your ability as Secretary of State of the United States to push these issues when you consider the fact that the United States is not itself a signatory to the International Criminal Court?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that is a great regret, but it is a fact that we are not yet a signatory. But we have supported the work of the court and will continue to do so under the Obama Administration.
MR. ZAKARIA: But do you wish we were a signatory?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it – I think we could have worked out some of the challenges that are raised concerning our membership by our own government, but that has not yet come to pass. The way the court works is that a nation that is a signatory, including an African nation, could refer this matter of the post-election violence to the international court. And I saw a poll of Kenyans saying that a vast majority of Kenyans agree with the Waki Commission that that should be done. And in my conversations, even with ministers in the government who understand how important it is to deal with this matter, they too have said that probably that is the only road forward.
As an outsider and as someone who knows how difficult these decisions are, that is not something that I will play a role in, but I think it’s important that a decision be made. If there’s not going to be a special local tribunal that has confidence of the people, then I think the people deserve to know that someone is going to put in motion the process to hold people accountable, and it may well be that that is the ICC. So that’s going to be up to Kenyans.
MR. ZAKARIA: The second part of what you talked about was corruption, which is, as you know, a huge problem in Kenya. And while there has been talk about combating it, and the signs of corruption-free zones are now seen more often, in 20 years there has not been a successful prosecution of any Kenyan politician or official on corruption charges. Many people suggest that the only way to put teeth in this policy, to make good on the tough part of the tough love, is to withhold aid at some point if there is not reform on the corruption agenda.
Could you imagine a situation when the United States or other Western donors withhold aid because corruption is not being tackled?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that would not be our choice because a lot of our aid goes directly to nongovernmental organizations and to work of people like Wangari Maathai, my friend and the Nobel Prize winner from Kenya. And we don’t want to deprive the people who are doing work, like I saw yesterday at the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute, training women farmers who do 70 percent of the agricultural work in Kenya, like most of Africa.
So we are not considering that, but we are considering steps that would target individuals about whom there is overwhelming evidence and belief that they have contributed to and participated in corruption at a massive level, and also the kind of post-election violence and extrajudicial killings that are so troubling. That is a possibility that we will consider.
But let me raise another idea. I said in my speech yesterday before the AGOA Forum, quoting one of our famous judges, that sunlight is the best disinfectant. And I think there’s an opportunity for young people and for civil society to use modern technology to run corruption watches and reporting. There are some examples of this beginning around the world where you basically surface what is going on. And it goes on at all levels of society, and frankly, look, it goes on in our society. We have to go after it all the time ourselves. You have seen people get arrested in America, whether they’re governors or they’re Congress members, if there is a belief that they have committed an act of corruption.
And I think there ought to be a way to use interactive media, especially the internet, obviously, and some of the new vehicles like Twitter, et cetera, to report in real time allegations of corruption. My friend Nita Lowey, our congresswoman who is here, runs the committee in Congress that determines in the House of Representatives all the aid, the foreign aid. And she met over the past couple of days with women who are entrepreneurs. They get microfinance. They do work like beauty salon work or selling gasoline or doing work at a low level, many of them living in Kabira. And much of their hard-earned income goes to protection money, goes to bribes. So here they are working as hard as they can to raise their families, and everybody has their hand out.
Now, what if we had groups of young people anonymously reporting all of this? I think there ought to be new ways of thinking about how civil society can take on corruption. And of course, there needs to be leadership from all levels of government within the civil service, within the elected ranks of government, and reporting mechanisms. You have a very vibrant free press, as I have seen for myself, which does an excellent job on many of these issues. But I think even more could be done.
So the short answer is yes, we will consider consequences aimed at individuals, not aimed at the people of Kenya.
MR. ZAKARIA: For my last (inaudible) let me actually turn to Wangari Maathai, in a sense, which is – when you were nominated Secretary of State, The New York Times asked a bunch of people to offer up questions that people might ask of you, and one of the people they asked was Wangari Maathai. And I’m just going to ask her, if I may, to recall the question that you asked of the Secretary, which related to China’s influence in Africa, African leaders’ desires to build ties with China, and the potential you worried about. And I wonder if you could just express it.
MS. MAATHAI: Well, thank you very, very much, Mr. Zakaria. Secretary of State, it’s wonderful to have you here in Nairobi in Kenya, East Africa. I’m sure I’m speaking on behalf of all of the people of this sub region in welcoming you here and saying thank you very much for coming.
At that time, and even now, there were – the concern that I – I have two concerns that I can probably bring out together. But the concern over China was the fact that here we are in a continent that is extremely rich. Africa is not a poor continent. Anything you want in the world is on this continent. It’s like the gods were on our side when the world was being created. (Applause.)
Yet we are considered among the poorest people on the planet. There’s something seriously wrong. And one of it, of course, is good governance.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
MS. MAATHAI: Even though we don’t like to be told, the truth of the matter is if you govern yourself in a responsible way, in an accountable way, if you share your resources in an equitable way, you’re more likely to please your people, and they are likely to have the energy to produce more. (Applause.)
So I was wondering, especially in relation to conflicts and competition over resources on this planet, what can a strong, powerful country like the United States of America do to persuade other strong countries like China to do business in Africa, with a consciousness that we must also demand from our leaders good governance?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a great question, Wangari, great question. (Applause.)
MS. MAATHAI: So that we can – so that we do not allow ourselves to be exploited yet again by these oncoming, upcoming economical giants, but who come and want to do business with our leaders without wondering and being concerned about human rights issues, equity issues, and governance issues. Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Look, I think that’s one of the most important questions for Africa. Africa historically has been exploited during colonialism and post-colonialism by corporations and by your own leaders so that the fruits of this richness that exists in the earth, in the waters of Africa, have not gone to the people.
And it is one of the biggest concerns that I have, because there is so much money being made right now, and it’s not any one country; it’s not any one corporation. But it is unfortunately aided and abetted by poor governance that doesn’t realize that the money needs to go back to the people in very tangible ways to build the economy, to build the infrastructure, to create sustainable employment. Because extractive industries do not leave sustainable economies and environments unless there are rules that are enforced.
And I often use an example that I think is a good model – Botswana. At the end of the colonial period in Botswana, the people of Botswana will tell you it was very fortunate because the colonialists – in that case, it was Britain – left right before diamonds were discovered – (laughter) – right? And there was enlightened leadership in Botswana who said, “We have diamonds. What shall we do with them?” And what they did was to create a mechanism so that funding and revenues from the exploitation of the diamonds went to build the infrastructure. So those of you who have been to Botswana know they have a very good network of roads, they have potable water everywhere. I mean, they invested in their people.
Contrast that to what’s going on in the Congo, where I’ll be in a few days, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I’ll be in Goma, and I will be there primarily to speak out against the unspeakable violence against women and girls in eastern Congo. It is the worst example of man’s inhumanity to women. And women are being used in conflicts.
Now, what are the conflicts about? Well, yes, there are tribal and other reasons why the conflicts are going on, but get below the surface. It’s because there are mines in eastern Congo that produce the minerals that go into our cell phones and our other electronics. There is a lot of money being made by a lot of people, but it sure isn’t helping the people of the DRC.
I could go across the continent. Look at Nigeria, another great country. Nigeria imports petroleum products even though it’s the fifth-largest producer of petroleum in the world. That is bad governance. That is a failure of rules that are enforced for the benefit of the people. And we have got to speak out about this. And it is a question, as Wangari so rightly says, of who is in charge and whether they have the best interests – not of their own families in mind; everybody will take care of their own families – but of the people they are supposed to govern and lead.
And I am just absolutely convinced that Africa’s best days can be ahead if we get a hold of this whole question of the use of natural resources and who benefits and where the revenues go.
MR. ZAKARIA: And what do you say to Prime Minister Odinga if he says he doesn’t need lectures on good governance from outside? (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I had quite a good conversation with him, and I told him that I was bearing a message from the son of Kenya, Barack Obama. (Applause.)
MR. ZAKARIA: So it’s not really an outsider?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that he has a great deal of understanding of what we are trying to say. I mean, we are very committed to helping Kenya. But as President Obama said in his speech in Ghana, the future of Africa is up to Africans, and the future of Kenya is up to Kenyans.
But I don’t think we would be friends, as we have been for more than 50 years, if we did not share our concerns. It would be easy to just stand on the sidelines and say help us on terrorism, help us on Somalia, help us here, help us there, and not say, but how about really looking at these internal issues and trying to figure out what you’re going to do? Because we want Kenya to have a leadership role in the 21st century, and the people of Kenya to have the potential that your hard work and talent deserves.
MR. ZAKARIA: Beatrice Marshall from our affiliate, KTN, do you want to ask a few questions or gather together some of the extraordinary people here and have them ask some questions?
MS. MARSHALL: Right. Thanks, Fareed. We are going to take questions now from the floor. The floor is open and we’ll take our first question from Peter Karuki (ph.). Peter, you can ask your question. Please stand up, be brief and to the point.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary of State. My name is Peter Karuki (ph) from civil society. Now, following the general elections of 2007, the U.S. Government was actually one of the first foreign governments to recognize the results. That recognition was soon thereafter withdrawn. Now following the crisis that ensued, there was a commission formed to look into the election problem and electoral reforms proposals. Now that commission did make a finding that that election was itself a sham.
Now given the question of impunity that Kenya is facing, what is the position of the U.S. Government in regard to constitutional and legal change in government, given that the finding of that commission raises serious legality questions about this government? And I would like to know what your position is, given that Kenya is, in another three years, facing a general election. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Peter, our position is that the reform agenda is absolutely essential to be accomplished before the next election in order to avoid the kind of conflict and irregularities that were alleged and have been proven coming out of the last election.
In the work that I’ve done in many places around the world, no one can reform a government from the outside. It takes the people of the country and particularly the role that civil society and the private sector played in trying to deal with the aftermath of the election. So yes, I mean, we can encourage, we can lecture, we can offer assistance, we can try to highlight good practices. But it has to be done by the people of Kenya. And I think the electoral reform, the judicial reform, the police reform, the constitutional reform all have to be done before the next election. Now, how that happens is truly up to the government and the people of Kenya.
But let me just also say that what we saw coming out of that election, in terms of violence, was very disturbing because of the groups and the tribal violence that took place. There has to be a lot of outreach and discussion and healing at the local level. People have to believe in one Kenya, which was really the slogan and the goal coming out of colonialism. And so anything that can be done to push the reform agenda, to hold the government accountable – and there are people within in the government who want this reform agenda to go forward. I’ve had many conversations in the last 24 to 36 hours, intense conversations.
But it’s very often difficult inside a government to move the levers unless you can say, oh, but they’re pushing us, they’re pushing us. So there has to continue to be the kind of pressure and demands that came from civil society before. But I would also ask that you make sure it’s not just on this level, but the (inaudible) goes down into society so that people will not respond to provocation again, that they will feel that the reforms will benefit them and their families. I think that’s a big piece of what has to happen as well.
MS. MARSHALL: Secretary Clinton, thank you very much. We’ll take some more questions from the floor. Of course, President Obama has stressed on the importance of youth taking their opportunity, and today we’d like to hear a little bit more from Kenya’s youth.
Caroline (ph), could you please ask your question.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think if you talk, it’ll pick up. Let’s try it, Caroline (ph).
SECRETARY CLINTON: No? Here comes Beatrice.
QUESTION: My name is Caroline Rutto (ph) from Citizens Assembly. The challenge that youth face in this country is lack of access to information, lack of employment, and lack of capital. I would like to ask how far or how will the U.S. Government help the youth access the skills, technology, and knowledge that can help them benefit from the AGOA?
The other thing I would like to ask is: How far are you willing to help youth also participate effectively? Youth try to participate, but there is no real level playing ground. They cannot participate in governance. And how far are you willing to help us mobilize, and to help us mobilize so that you can participate effectively in governance and demand for a corruption-free government? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I know that our Embassy and our government, mostly through USAID, the Agency for International Development, has worked with youth groups. I know the ambassador was telling me about some of the meetings he’s held with representatives of youth groups and civil society. And we want very much to encourage the next generation of leaders and to try to provide some of the support and the tools that young people need in order to participate. So we would welcome any specific suggestions.
We have, as you know, a very big commitment of aid programs, but we want to make sure that they go to where they will have the greatest impact. At the AGOA Forum, what we offered was more help by the United States to assist entrepreneurs and small businesses get into the American market. There are so many products that can go into the American market duty free, but a lot of people don’t know how to access it. So we are prepared, through our Embassy and through the very talented people who work there, to be of assistance. So if you have specific ideas, please let us know.
MS. MARSHALL: All right. We’ll take another question here from the floor.
QUESTION: My name is Martin Allo (ph) from the (inaudible) side of Kenya. I just wanted to stay with the issue of free and fair elections a bit, and perhaps ask you to clarify what the American position is, because we’ve seen in the recent past, beginning with Kenya, that we’re seeing less and less free elections, and then followed by Zimbabwe. In Kenya, we saw American position falter a little bit, first recognized and then retract. In Zimbabwe, there seemed to be a very clear stand that there wasn’t trust that Mugabe was going to do a free and fair election from the first instance.
And so it seems to me that once that has gone, we seem to see the same situation in Zimbabwe, power sharing in Kenya, power sharing. And there seems to be a silent (inaudible) he has to do with business with these, and that seems to be questioning the very idea of democracy. I’m wondering we can actually have some variations of democracy. Should we be expecting that American position will be very clear and very straight, that we cannot have anything less than free and fair elections? Thanks.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me say three things about that. As some of you know who have followed Fareed’s work, he coined the phrase “illiberal democracy.” Elections are held, they can be free and fair, they can be unfree and unfair. But what happens is someone gets elected and then they basically begin to dismantle the building blocks of democracy: cracking down on the press, cracking down on the judiciary, employing corruption instead of merit. You know all of the aspects of that.
So clearly, it is not only our policy, but it is our intent to do everything we can to ensure as free and fair elections as possible. And there are many vehicles for doing that. I mean, the United States has groups that work to provide technical assistance and monitoring of elections. The European Union does. The United Nations does. There are a lot of different ways that we can participate with the Kenyan Government and Kenyan civil society to ensure that the elections are as free and fair as possible.
Once an election is held, of course, there is always the problem of winners and losers. And sometimes in a free and fair election, those who lose feel aggrieved and create foment within society, and their followers will never believe the election was free and fair, even if it was. We have a little experience of that ourselves, going back to our 2000 election where there was a lot of real pent-up rejection on the part of many Americans.
So holding elections that have credibility is something I believe every country owes its citizens. And I often look to India. Now think about India; this huge democracy with very hard-fought elections, and in the last 20 years, going back and forth between the Congress Party and the BJP. But they have figured out how to run an election where the result can be surprising and unpredicted but accepted. They moved elections into a civil service body that is immune from politics. They used – they were one of the very first to use computerized elections; 450 to 500 million people vote, many of whom are illiterate, but they have figured out a way to convey the basic message about who the people are running for office. I said, only half-jokingly, after our problems with our 2000 election and then our 2004 election and some of our constituencies, that we should outsource our elections to India. (Laughter.)
But there are models around the world. And there are lots of ways for civil society to look at the best practices, work with the university and the scientists and researchers and political scientists and others here, and say this is what a free and fair election looks like, and here are the foundational steps that have to be taken in order for it to be accepted.
Once the election happens, though, the United States, like every government, is left with a very difficult choice. And what we historically have done, and we did it in Zimbabwe, we rejected the Mugabe election. But the people within Zimbabwe came to us and said we’ve got to make the best of a very bad deal. The Prime Minister Tsvangirai was in Washington. The President and I met with him in the Oval Office. He said, look, this is very difficult for me. You’re in government with people who’ve tried to kill you and your associates for years. But this is for the best of the people of Zimbabwe, so please help us.
That puts us in a very difficult position. We don’t want to legitimize what was a wrong election. We don’t want to do anything that helps Mugabe and his supporters, because we reject their illegitimacy – we believe that about them. But when the people who have been on frontlines struggling come to you and say, please help us, we’re not going to turn away. We’re going to try to be thoughtful and careful and not – we said we’d help them on – helping farmers get their fields back in shape and get their crops in, and we would try to pay the schoolteachers directly. Because we heard from the reformers inside the government that they actually had a reformer minister of education who began to survey. The schools were in total disarray, the teachers had been scared off, the children no longer came. And one of the first things that this minister received was a telephone call from President Mugabe’s office telling the minister to come pick up his new Mercedes Benz. He said, “I don’t need a Mercedes Benz. I need teachers and schoolbooks.”
So this is a very difficult evaluation. So understand how we try to work though this.
MR. ZAKARIA: But if I may just press the question of – what he seems to be suggesting is is the message being sent out to African leaders is rig the election, refuse to leave power, and eventually there’ll be some kind of grand coalition which you’re a part of. (Applause.) And if you look at the Kenya Government, it’s 94 ministers, each drawing a salary of about $15,000 a year, which in Kenya is a fairly large sum of money, bound together in a kind of mutual compact of greed and corruption. Is that going to solve the problems of the country? (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, it is not. It is not going to solve the problems of the country. But I guess my message is that the United States cannot solve the problems of Kenya. And that as a government with many interests, and particular interest in the well-being and the future of the people of Kenya, and hopefully future leaders among this audience, we can take a position, like we have from time to time, where there is absolutely no pretense of democracy and we can have no diplomatic relations and we can have sanctions. But we don’t think that’s an appropriate response in a situation like this.
Politics is better than conflict. So even if you don’t like the political outcomes, because people have figured out ways to work with those against whom they have been involved in politics or even who they don’t believe have the best interest of the country at heart, it is not up to the United States, I do not believe, to say, well, we won’t work with you. It is up to us to do what we are doing, what the President has done, what I have done on this trip, which is to say we expect so much more of you, we believe in you and your potential.
But we cannot dictate to you who you have in your government. You have to determine how to influence and change this government, and do not be deterred by the difficulty of it. I think that is our message, Fareed, because we have a lot of very strong connections with Kenya. We want to continue supporting this university. We don’t want to say, well, we don’t like the government so we’re not going to support the university. I don’t think that’s a very smart conclusion to draw.
MS. MARSHALL: All right. Part of your itinerary will take you to the DR Congo, and we have here a student from the DRC with a question. Go ahead with your question, please.
QUESTION: My name is Jean Bonair Congolu (ph). I’m, as I said, a citizen of Democratic Republic of Congo and (inaudible) post-graduate (inaudible) conflict in this university. And it seems you have added your voice in what is going on in Goma all eastern Congo. As you are going to be there very soon, my concern is as you are going there, because the problem in Congo is the multibillion company who are outside Africa, who are influencing the ongoing conflict in the DRC. What is your foreign policy takes of the multimillion company who are financing conflict in that region?
Secondly is the role of the militias, the armed groups. If those are non-invited or those are invited by the neighboring states, what is the American takes in ending the militia’s activity, as you said, raping women, killing children, recruiting the young men like us to join the army by force so that they may continue disturbing the government of Kinshasa? And another thing is –
MR. ZAKARIA: How about at least we keep it to those two very important questions?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, obviously, we are very concerned about conditions in the DRC. And in many ways, the problems that we see in the DRC are so acute because much of the country is ungoverned. In the entire country, I think it’s right to say there’s only something like 300 miles of paved road. It is a very difficult set of challenges that we’re facing in trying to work to improve governance and the rule of law inside the DRC. But we are very committed to doing so.
But we also, while we’re kind of working to try to change things in the medium and long term, we have these short-term emergencies of the violence in the east, which is militia-fueled, which has been going on for years. And there are many different fingers in that pot, stirring it, and creating the conflict.
And we are looking for ways to try to create conditions where the corporations and the countries who are exploiting the mineral wealth understand it is in their interest to try to help diminish the conflict, where the UN peacekeepers play an even more effective role, where the military of the DRC is well enough trained and committed to helping to end the conflict.
So we are working on both of those levels, dealing with the crisis and the emergency and trying to help set some processes in motion that can create a better outcome over the next several years. It’s very difficult. I’m not going to sit here and tell you we have the answers. The United States, even with our new President, cannot tell people what to do and expect it to happen. You have to work with people. You have to create the conditions that will change the behaviors and realize the kind of outcomes that we think are in the interests of the people of these countries.
MS. MARSHALL: Secretary Clinton, we – you are going to be meeting Somalia authorities during your visit here in Kenya. The concerns of America in regards with instability in the Horn of Africa region, what will be your message to the Somalia authorities? What will be your message to the Horn of Africa leaders?
And secondly, sanctions against Eritrea, the U.S. has threatened sanctions against Eritrea. Will that assist in restoring, really, stability in Somalia or helping in the problems of Somalia?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’ve had many conversations about Somalia over the last days here. And with the border that Kenya shares with Somalia, the instability in Somalia is of great concern. It’s also a humanitarian issue because about 10,000 Somali refugees come across the border when the fighting is intense every month. And so there’s a lot that Kenya worries about, and understandably so. And we’re – I’m going to be meeting with Sheikh Sharif, the president of Transitional Federal Government. And was it a perfect election? Of course not. But the legitimacy of his election is something that we want to recognize and support him as he tries to assert governance over parts of Somalia that have been riven with conflict since 1992. It’s a tragedy. I mean, there are many Somalis in Nairobi and in Kenya, people who would love to go home if they could make a living and raise their families in peace, and they cannot.
So our goal is to try to help create conditions of stability. And the African Union has military forces in Somalia, a program called AMISOM. They are trying to create areas of their conflict-free zones. We need to get some of the neighbors to quit funding the terrorist organization, al-Shabaab. And I think there’s a lot of work to be done there. We’ve made it clear that we want to be supportive. But again, this is an African-led mission, and we applaud that and we want to support the African intervention into Somalia.
MS. MARSHALL: All right. We’ll hear more from the floor and our young people. Go ahead with your question. Please be brief and to the point.
QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Yoshin Amori (ph). I work for (inaudible) youth initiatives. I have a question. You have had a meeting with the prime minister and the president and other state and non-state actors. What is your impression on the existence, if at all, of political – real political goodwill for implementation of real reforms in Kenya? And if at all, you may have lost hope on our leadership, the way Kenyans have, then what do you think are the options that Kenyans have to ensure that we reform this country and that we have a leadership that will implement what Kenyans want? And what would be the role of the United States in implementing such a strategy? Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I work for a president who believes in hope – (laughter) – and so we don’t give up hope, we just try to figure out different ways to see it made into reality. As I said, I think that there are people within the leadership – I’m not going to name names, I just would be doing that based on my own impressions, which I don’t think would be fair – but there are people within the leadership who really understand the necessity for these reforms. Whether they can be successful or not is still up in the air.
But at the very least, they must do electoral reform to avoid the kind of outcome that you experienced before. And they must do judicial and police reform. Put aside the question of holding people accountable and ending impunity, which I think is much harder for them to get their arms around because of the obvious implications. But on electoral reform, police, and judicial reform and constitutional reform, there should be a constant pressure from civil society and the private sector.
And I think there are ways of doing that, making this a daily effort and not losing hope, because there have been many situations where reform took a long time and it was very hard won. Think about our civil rights revolution. There are many – we could be transported back to Alabama or Mississippi in the 1950s or the early 1960s. And instead of me sitting here, it might be Dr. King or one of our other great civil rights leaders. And the questions might be, well, why? We can’t keep waiting. We have to do this. It’ll never change. And the answer would be, yes, you have to organize and you have to be smarter and you have to work harder. And guess what? We finally got there. And we now have a president who would not be president were it not for the sacrifice and the persistence and the perseverance of those who came before. So it is my hope that those of you who are pushing for reform, keep thinking about ways of putting the right kinds of pressure to bear on those in power.
And when you say, well, what else can you do, Kenya strikes me as a very political culture. I’ve talked with Americans who have worked here in the embassies. They’ve been around Kenya. They’ve been in small villages. Everybody has a political opinion. (Laughter.) I mean, you could never have gotten out of your village and maybe not even be educated, but you understand that politics counts in Kenya. And so you think about it and you express your opinion. You have to then not just be in civil society, as important as that is and the path that many of you have chosen, and I applaud you for it, but at the same time, some of you have to be in politics.
Max Weber talked about the hard boring of hard boards in politics. And very often, the people who are left standing are the people who just never gave up. So you have to be willing to take on the political challenge as well as the reform challenge. Start now. I mean, I don’t know enough about Kenyan politics, but are there parties that either you can join or you can form? Are there ways of getting out and beginning to plan for the 2012 elections right now? I mean, I’ll tell you, we have people in America who are already thinking of running for president in 2012 and 2016 and 2020.
MR. ZAKARIA: Nobody on this stage.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Nobody on this stage, however. (Laughter.)
MR. ZAKARIA: Last question from the floor.
MS. MARSHALL: Yes, yes. We are going to take our final question from Halima (ph).
QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Halima Mohamed Saleh (ph). I work with (inaudible) Kenya from coastal region. I wanted to ask because Muslim community, especially the women, have been marginalized. And I don’t know what the United States of America have to contribute to the (inaudible) success of the Muslim community. Second thing is that if you have a program, probably on international dialogue, so that people can understand more on our community and instead of actually criticizing and not wanting to know more on Islamic culture. Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Those are very good questions and good points. Let me just – let me go specifically to her questions and then just broaden it as I end my answer.
Yes, we do have programs aimed at the Muslim community. As you know, the President’s speech in Cairo was meant to be the beginning of a dialogue. We are working through the State Department and the rest of our government to create such discussions both within the Muslim community and between the Muslim community and other communities. And I am particularly concerned about opportunities for women, women of all faiths, all tribes, all ethnicities, all everything. I think that no society can be successful unless women have their full rights and have the ability to participate fully in their countries. (Applause.)
So this is an area that we are particularly concerned about. And I hope that – is somebody from the embassy, Ambassador, that if we could get your name, so we could follow up with you to see what specifically we could do?
But let me broaden this. I think that some of the violence that came after the last election was shocking to Kenyans. And I believe there is a great opportunity for civil society to engage in a dialogue across Kenyan society, not just with Muslims, but with different parts of the country, with different tribes in the country, to begin to really figure out how you unify the country and create a sense of commitment to the future that will benefit everyone. And that would be a great undertaking for Kenyan civil society to decide to do.
MS. MARSHALL: All right. I’ll hand over to Fareed. I understand our time is limited.
MR. ZAKARIA: Our time is limited, and I’m just going to end with one very specific question. This is a news report I saw while preparing for this town hall, and it involves a woman, a young woman, a very attractive young woman. A Kenyan city councilman says he offered Bill Clinton 40 goats and 20 cows for his daughter’s hand in marriage five years ago. (Laughter.) He is still awaiting an answer. And I thought on this occasion, you know, Mrs. Clinton, if you think about it – (laughter and applause) – if you think in the current global economic climate with asset values have gone down, your stock portfolio is probably down, your government has had – your husband has had to do a little bit of government work, take time off from the private sector, it’s not a bad offer. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, my daughter is her own person. She’s very independent. So I will convey this very kind offer. (Laughter.)
MR. ZAKARIA: And we thank Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. We thank the University of Nairobi, the Government of Kenya and our associates, our affiliate, and (inaudible). Thank you so much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Beatrice. Thank you very much. (Applause.)