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Why did US Speaker reject Ruto’s address to Congress? Nation misled readers

The heading in the Sunday Nation was unequivocal: “Why US Speaker Mike Johnson blocked Ruto’s Congress address”.

Such a heading demanded credible answers in the story. The Nation’s answers, unfortunately, fell short.

Instead of credible “voices in the room”, the Nation provided only distant, third-party opinions as to why the US Speaker may have rejected President William Ruto.

This May 12 story by Moses Nyamori echoed recent news from Washington, D.C. that a committee of the US Congress had petitioned their Speaker to invite Ruto, during his imminent state visit to the United States, to address a joint session of congress.

A foreign leader’s address to a joint session of Congress, a sitting by both the US Senate and the House of Representatives, is a big deal.

Winston Churchill addressed a joint session of Congress in 1941. Nelson Mandela addressed Congress after his release from prison in 1990. Pope Francis was given the honour in 2015.

William Ruto is not Churchill. He is no Mandela. And he is not the Pope.

So, first, was this reported invite even credible?

Apparently, yes. First, Ruto would not be the first African president to make this address. Liberian former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the only African president to do so, in 2006.

The news from Washington in April, that the Committee Chair for Foreign Affairs in the US Congress, had requested a similar invite for Kenya’s President Ruto, was reported in diverse media.

So, why did Speaker Johnson refuse the request?

The Nation asked history professor Macharia Munene at the United States International University-Africa. Professor Munene is the only man that, according to all Nairobi media, has all the answers about anything America, the sole guru of foreign affairs in this town.

It’s all politics, Munene said. It’s election year in America. Speaker Johnson is Republican. President Biden, a Democrat, is running for re-election; he must have been keen on Ruto’s invite. So, the Republican Speaker found something on which to rebuff the Democrat.

Next, the Nation cited a director of the African Centre for the Study of the United States in a South African university. This director said that Speaker Johnson was under siege from a racist wing of his party in Congress. That to this group, an African president addressing Congress would be blasphemy.

Another academic from City University of New York concurred with Professor Munene’s opinion that Ruto was unfortunately caught up in the Republican-Democrats politics.

That was it. Supposed answers to why Ruto won’t address the US congress. All conjectures. Nobody knows if these are credible reasons. Because no voice of anyone even close to Washington or State House was heard on the matter.

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