Townterview Hosted by CNN and KTN At The University Of Nairobi
Secretary of State
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.)
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