President Ruto meets ‘handshake senator’ Chris Coons at State House

Senator Chris Coons and President William Ruto.

US Senator Chris Coons and Kenyan President Willian Ruto at State House, Nairobi on August 18, 2023.

Photo credit: Twitter via President William Ruto

President William Ruto Friday August 18 morning held talks with a US Senator who was behind former President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga’s handshake in 2018.

The President hosted Delaware Senator Chris Andrew Coons at the State House.

The meeting comes days after the senator held separate talks with Mr Odinga last Sunday.

Mr Coons’ current engagements in Kenya are linked to the ongoing political negotiations between the ruling Kenya Kwanza Alliance and opposition Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition to settle the 2022 post-election standoff.

United States Ambassador Meg Whitman – who is currently in the eye of a political storm between the government and the opposition for declaring the 2022 presidential outcome as fair and credible – and Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua were also present.

President Ruto, in a brief statement posted on his social media accounts, said Senator Coons “appreciated Kenya as one of the most vibrant democracies in the world.”

“Kenya is keen on enhancing its relations with the United States to expand trade and investment opportunities for citizens of both nations. This mutually beneficial partnership will extend to climate change mitigation efforts and environmental conservation,” he said.

They also discussed “global security issues, climate change and the progressive path of devolution in Kenya.”

US Ambassador Meg Whitman, Kenyan President Willian Ruto, Kenya Foreign and Diaspora Affairs CS Alfred Mutua and US Senator Chris Coons.

Photo credit: Twitter via President William Ruto

The State House meeting comes on the backdrop of a storm triggered by Ambassador Whitman, who described the 2022 presidential election as the most credible in Kenyan history.

Ms Whitman had on Tuesday won a President Ruto-instigated standing ovation during the first day of the ongoing Devolution Conference in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.

“I arrived in Kenya just before the August 2022 General Election and what I witnessed was nothing but short of remarkable. Kenya held what many analysts said was the freest, fairest and most credible in Kenyan history,” said the envoy.

But Mr Odinga, who also addressed the devolution conference on Wednesday, rapped Ms Whitman saying she should keep off Kenyan affairs.

“I want to tell the rogue ambassador, leave Kenyans alone. If maandamano can lead to dialogue between Ichung’wah and Kalonzo, everything is good with maandamano. Tell the rogue Ambassador [that] Kenya is not the United States and it is not a colony of the United States; keep your mouth shut while here, otherwise, we will call for your recall back to your country,” the opposition leader said.