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Speculation arises as US Senator in ‘Uhuru, Raila handshake’ meets Ruto

A high-profile meeting at State House between President William Ruto and American Senator Chris Coons has left Kenyan citizens intrigued and curious.

The meeting at State House on Friday, August 18, was attended by notable figures such as US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman and Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Dr Alfred Mutua.

The State House communications team released a statement detailing that the meeting primarily revolved around strengthening the close ties between the United States and Kenya.

The focus is on expanding trade and investment opportunities for the citizens of both nations.

Senator Coons gained prominence among Kenyans due to his pivotal role in resolving the political impasse between former President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga after the contentious 2017 election.

Also read: Exclusive: Why Uhuru’s former ‘bouncer’ Arocho is against Ruto-Raila handshake

The United States, which has a longstanding relationship with Kenya, utilized Senator Coons’ mediation to facilitate a handshake that marked a turning point in Kenyan politics. The handshake led to increased collaboration between Mr. Odinga and the opposition starting in 2018.

Despite President Ruto and his administration reiterating their stance against power-sharing in the current government, the unexpected meeting with Senator Coons has sparked speculation and raised eyebrows.

In a social media post on Sunday, August 13, Mr Odinga shared a photo of his meeting with Senator Coons, expressing his pleasure in exchanging thoughts with the influential figure.

“It was a pleasure, as usual to meet and exchange notes with my friend Senator Chris Coons. An afternoon well spent,” Mr Odinga stated.

Senator Coons’ presence coincides with the opposition’s suspension of anti-government protests, signaling a willingness to engage in dialogue with the government through a committee sanctioned by the National Assembly.

This high-profile gathering between the US and Kenyan leaders also takes place amid criticism from the opposition regarding remarks made by the US Ambassador to Kenya, praising the country’s democratic progress following the 2022 elections that were widely regarded as free, fair, and credible.

President Ruto shared that during the meeting, Senator Coons commended Kenya’s vibrant democracy.

Beyond democracy, they also delved into discussions on global security, climate change, and the ongoing development of devolution in Kenya.

Also read: How Ruto-Raila ‘handshake’ happened unexpectedly