Select Page

Ruto makes landmark Washington visit, first for Africa in 16 years
Ruto makes landmark Washington visit, first for Africa in 16 years
| May 22, 2024

Kenyan leader William Ruto, accompanied by his wife, disembarked from a chartered Royal Jet aircraft from Abu Dhabi as it landed at Joint Base Andrews in the suburbs of Washington DC. Photo: Handout

U.S President Joe Biden pressed forward with this week’s state visit from Kenyan leader William Ruto, carving out time to nurture the relations with a critical U.S ally in the African continent against the backdrop of the ICC prosecutor seeking arrest warrants against Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

The state visit, marking the first by an African leader since 2008, highlights his commitment to countering China’s influence in Kenya and in the continent amidst ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and Europe, notably the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which persists after almost two years.

This is also the first visit from a Kenyan leader since 2002.

Ruto, who arrived at Joint Base Andrews in the suburbs of Washington DC on a chartered Royal Jet aircraft from Abu Dhabi, will sleep, together with his first lady at Blair House, the president’s guest house near the White House.

On his first day in Washington, Ruto made an appeal to Congress to renew the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) as well as replenishment of U.S President’s Emergency plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR).

He will visit Arlington National Cemetery, where the war dead are buried, and offer flowers there.

On Thursday, Ruto will meet with Biden at the White house for a joint press conference and a state dinner.

The pomp and prestige is a major prize for a first-term president who, critics charge, has a strong authoritarian streak.

Last year, Mr. Ruto launched public criticisms against judges whose rulings impeded his policies, sparking concerns about Kenya’s potential drift towards authoritarianism.

Like many African leaders, he actively engages with various foreign partners.

In the past year, much to the dismay of American officials, Ruto hosted President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran, who tragically perished in a helicopter crash on Sunday, and met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov.

Additionally, in October, Mr. Ruto embarked on a three-day official visit to China.

He rebuffed claims that he favors the West or any specific nation.

Your support empowers us to deliver quality global journalism. Whether big or small, every contribution is valuable to our mission and readers.