US Ambassador Meg Whitman's Letter Reveals Biden's Trust in Ruto

Ruto and Whitman
A photo of President William Ruto and United States Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman on September 27, 2022, at State House, Nairobi.
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William Samoei Ruto

Despite White House declining to take a stand between President William Ruto and his nemesis, Raila Odinga, a letter addressed by US ambassador, Meg Whitman, revealed President Joe Biden's trust in the current administration. 

In a letter dated February 6 addressed to Biden's Advisory Council of Doing Business in Africa, Whitman expressed confidence in Ruto and his agenda to transform Kenya's economy.

Through the document, the billionaire diplomat invited the council's chair to attend the American Chamber of Commerce Regional Business Summit in Nairobi from May 29-30. With the US enhancing its operations in Kenya since Ruto assumed power, Whitman was candid about the true picture on the ground, according to American strategists.  

She described Ruto as an able leader with a solid plan to transform the country into a regional economic powerhouse.

President William Ruto and First Lady Rachel Ruto meeting US President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden at White House on December 15, 2022.
President William Ruto and First Lady Rachel Ruto meeting US President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden at White House on December 15, 2022.
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"The New President, William Ruto, is very strong. He is smart, strategic, and gets things done. He is hands-on and easy to work with.

"He understands that economic growth and development is the way forward and has set a vision for accelerating Kenya's drive to achieve upper middle-income country status by 2030," the letter seen by Kenyans.co.ke read in part.

Whitman added that Ruto appointed a strong Cabinet and was undertaking reforms to continue improving the country's business environment. Her statement is contrary to the opposition, with Raila and his allies accusing Ruto of appointing leaders with questionable integrity.

Graft cases, which several appointees grappled with in court, were dropped by the Director of Public Prosecution, Noordin Haji, a few days after they were sworn in. 

Nonetheless, Whitman cited the establishment of several multinational companies in the country, as a testament to Ruto's zeal to work with the US, following the emergence of the silicon savannah, and the nature of the workforce in the country. 

"The Kenyan people are its biggest asset. They are educated, English-speaking, hardworking, cost-effective, and exhibit a very low turnover rate," Whitman wrote.

She added that the country boasts technological innovation to facilitate business and mobile money. In addition, the country has a diverse manufacturing industry. Kenya was a country worth investing in with its widespread infrastructure, including a vast road network, and stable electricity supply. 

In her perspective, the Head of State is a peace broker, citing Kenya's involvement in peace processes in neighbouring Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, efforts that were also coordinated, in part, by former President Uhuru Kenyatta. 

Whitman invited the council's chair to attend the American Chamber of Commerce Regional Business Summit in Nairobi from May 29-30. 

A photo of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga addressing a rally on Kibera on March 27, 2022.
A photo of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga addressing a rally in Kibra on March 27, 2022.
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Raila Odinga

On matters of politics, she indicated that the August 2022 poll was the fairest and most transparent since Kenya's independence. This was a low blow to Raila Odinga and his allies, who embarked on nationwide protests to force Ruto to give in to their demands. 

On Tuesday, March 28, Raila attacked foreign powers, alleging that they were hell-bent on protecting Ruto and failed to call out the government for using extra force on protesters. 

In return, the White House, through its State Department Spokesman Vedant Patel, condemned violence, encouraged the opposition to carry out peaceful protests and advised the government to exercise tolerance. 

"We call on government security forces to act with restraint while protecting public safety and property. The rights to freedoms of expression and association and the right to peaceful assembly are core tenets to democracy," Vedant Patel stated. 

Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, foreign affairs expert, John Gachie, explained that the statement by Biden did not offer a different perspective from America's initial stand.

He explained that every foreign country has interests in a host state and that Whitman's letter was written when the country was calm. However, the political scene has changed since.

"Each country has interests whether political, economic, social or democratic. In February 2023, the ambassador pushed for America's economic interests hence the lean toward the government.

"However, the US also has its political interests and cannot be seen to support a government or the opposition at a time when democracy is at stake. That explains the call for Ruto and Raila to hold talks." 

US ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman announces the launch of more than Ksh12.9 billion investment to enhance water, sanitation and hygiene activities in Kenya on March 13, 2023.
US ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman announces the launch of more than Ksh12.9 billion investment to enhance water, sanitation and hygiene activities in Kenya on March 13, 2023.
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Alice Wahome
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