Ruto grabs global attention at British monarch’s funeral
President William Ruto attracted global attention during the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II’on Monday as he sought to make a mark in the international arena early on in his tenure.
Leading United Kingdom media outlets reported his attendance of the burial noting he had done so despite assuming office last week Tuesday.
The nation’s fifth Head of State was making his first maiden trip abroad under a week after taking over office after winning the August 9 elections.
The President’s appearance was noted by leading outlets like the BBC and Daily Mail while acknowledging the country’s smooth transfer of power after hotly contested elections.
Acknowledged Ruto’s presence
During its live streaming of the Queen’s funeral service at Westminster Abbey in London, the BBC’s commentator acknowledged Ruto’s presence while noting Her Majesty’s ascension to the throne in 1952 while on vacation in Kenya.
The Queen was informed of the demise of her father King George VI while visiting Kenya with her husband, the late Prince Philip in February that year.
While indicating that the President was among African leaders herded in a bus as they headed to the service, the Daily Mail said they were not an exception as hundreds of other dignitaries including royals from European countries were also shuttled to the venue in a coach.
“The British government issued a directive asking presidents attending the Queen’s funeral to arrive by coach instead of taking their own transport. But some world leaders, such as US president Joe Biden, were allowed to visit using private vehicles,” the newspaper reported.
Ruto was among Commonwealth leaders who were invited by the new monarch, King Charles III, to a dinner with him on Sunday ahead of the Queen’s burial on Monday.
Hundreds of dignitaries attended and Ruto managed to shake hands with the new King and later posted a picture with his wife, Rachel of the rare encounter on his social media pages.
“Rachel and I attended a reception at Buckingham Palace for Heads of State in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II hosted by His Majesty King Charles III before the burial. London, United Kingdom,” he posted alongside the picture.
A picture of him and Rachel together with Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu inside the bus was also widely circulated online with many Kenyans questioning why a President could be forced to travel in a “matatu”.
After the burial, Ruto flew to New York for this year’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that began yesterday.
The President is expected to address the Assembly as Kenya is a temporary member of the United Nations Security Council.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated that the country’s “Participation at the highest level in the UNGA is particularly important for Kenya as the country seeks to complete the second year of its non-permanent membership to the United Nations Security Council.”
The President will also seek to promote bilateral ties with other nations enjoying friendly ties with the country on the side lines of the Assembly.
The Ministry, which is still under outgoing Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo as Ruto is yet to pick CSs, said he will be exploring partnership opportunities with American investors on his first visit to the United States as President.
“The Head of State will also attend a working session with senior representatives of the American businesses during which he will urge for increased trade and investment between the two countries,” the statement said.
The President is also expected to chair a meeting of the Conference of African Heads of State on Climate Crisis (CAHOSCC), a caucus bringing together the leaders to fight vagaries of climate change.
It is not clear if the President will meet Kenyans living in the country as the Ministry did not indicate such a possibility. During the inauguration, however, he said his government would consider a Ministry solely in charge of the diaspora which will be a notable diversion from previous regimes that ensconced the department in the Foreign Affairs docket.