Historic moment as US committee wants Ruto to address Congress


• Ruto would be the first Kenyan, and second African President in 18 years to address a joint session of Congress.

President William Ruto
Image: Courtesy

The House of Congress Foreign Affairs committee has requested the Speaker to invite President William Ruto to address a joint session on his official visit to the United States, later this month. 

The same was requested via a letter dated April 30, 2024, and addressed to Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnson by members of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

"We are writing to respectfully request that you extend a formal invitation to the President of the Republic of Kenya, His Excellency William Samoei Ruto, to address a joint session of Congress on his official visit to the United States," the letter reads in part.

Ruto would be the first Kenyan President to address a joint session of Congress, and the first African head of state to address Congress since former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 18 years ago.

Such an invitation, Johnson said would underscore the importance of the US-Kenya relationship and send a valuable signal to Africans.

The two nations are celebrating the historic 60th anniversary of their diplomatic relationship.

Johnson noted that Kenya has the largest, most diversified economy and a young and growing population.

"It also has a young, ambitious and well-educated workforce eager to contribute to the development of the country," he said.

These factors, the House Committee said, have helped the country become a leader in mobile money and information and communication technology.

The US-Kenya relations continue to deepen, encompassing strong political, economic, technological, and cultural ties.

Additionally, the US is among Kenya's largest trading partners and is the latter is one of Africa's most dynamic economies, boasting a top utilisation rate of the US market access under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

The Committee underscored that Nearly 100,000 Kenyan Americans call the United States home.

Moreover, the United States maintains an overseas military base at Manda Bay, on the Indian Ocean, to support operations to counter terrorist threats from Al-Shabaab.

"These are just some examples of the close ties forged between our nation and Kenya over the past six decades," they stated.

Johnson added that Kenya has played an important stabilising role in East Africa and beyond, in recent years and stands poised to attract significant American investment that can help catalyse African economic growth.

"It is crucial for members of Congress to understand how Kenya's active participation in Africa's future and beyond is vital for peace and stability in the region and aligns with the broader economic and strategic interests of the United States," the letter further reads.

"We therefore respectfully request that, at your earliest convenience, you invite President William Samoei Ruto to address a joint session of Congress when he is in the United States on or about May 23, 2024."

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