NAIROBI, Kenya, May 16 – Deputy President William Ruto left the country on Thursday on his first official tour in honour of invitations from the governments of Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, Nigeria and Algeria.
His office said the invitations were extended to President Uhuru Kenyatta, who Ruto will be representing, during their April 9 inauguration ceremony which was graced by heads of government from the four countries.
Ruto first landed in The Republic of Congo on Thursday before heading to the other Central African nation of Gabon and is expected to return to the country on Saturday after visiting Nigeria and finally Algeria.
“We believe that with the strategic leadership we have in the region, Kenya needs to establish a partnership with countries in the South, West, North and Central Africa,” the Deputy President said of his trip.
President Kenyatta reiterated his government’s commitment to the economic integration of the continent less than a week ago. “What is now needed is the strong political will to support full implementation of all necessary protocols that will lead to full integration of the EAC (East African Community) as well as other regional blocs in the continent.”
Apart from the economy, environmental conservation will form part of agenda the Head of State’s deputy will be pursuing; Kenya narrowly escaped sanctions in March given the sharp decline in the elephant population on account of poaching.
“We need to position Kenya in a driving seat in the African agenda as pertains socio-economic development and environmental conservation,” Ruto said.
East and Central Africa’s regional stability is also likely to come up during Ruto’s visit to Congo and Gabon given the rebel fighting going on in both countries.
The West African nation of Nigeria and the North African nation of Algeria are themselves facing security challenges as is Kenya where President Kenyatta met with security chiefs on Thursday.
Ruto’s trip comes just days after President Kenyatta returned to the country from a trip to South Africa which was preceded by a trip to London and before that a trip to Ethiopia where IGAD signatories discussed the security situation in Somalia.
On his return the, president oversaw the swearing-in of 16 members of his Cabinet and is expected to nominate two others as well as Principal Secretaries to the 18 ministries.