Chris Coons: The US statesman who visits Kenya at crucial political moments
On August 18, 2022, just three days after President William
Ruto was announced the winner of the General Election, an unfamiliar man strode
into the State House, Nairobi, and met its then occupant Uhuru Kenyatta to
engage in peace talks.
With a finely-pressed suit, a neat bald head, and a deft piece of footwork, United States Senator Chris Coons accompanied Mr. Kenyatta along the lawns of State House into a lushly furnished room where they had their tete-a-tete.
Senator Coons was leading a congressional delegation of US Senate and House Representatives.
Before jetting over 12,000 kilometres back to the US, he also met President-Elect Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga and the meeting agenda remained the same; Keep the peace in Kenya.
His shoe had barely forgotten the grit on Kenya's land, his hands the firm handshakes they shared with top Kenyan leaders when he flew back on March 29, 2023.
His mission this time round was to hold talks with Kenyan politicians to discuss matters of mutual interest such as trade, security and democracy.
DP Gachagua committed to strengthening ties between the two nations lauding them for being "critical partners in development and dealing with a host of challenges, including famine and drought."
"This morning, I hosted a delegation from the USA led by Senator for Delaware, Christopher Andrew Coons for consultations towards strengthening ties between the two nations, especially in trade, security, democracy, among other key issues of mutual interest," Gachagua wrote in a tweet after meeting Coons.
On his part, Raila said that they held discussions on developing the nation among a myriad of more pertinent issues.
"We had a fruitful discussion on the importance of upholding the constitution and the rule of law, and agreed to keep the channels of communication open," he said.
Subsequently, Coons has made yet another visit to Kenya at a time when the government and the opposition are engaged in bipartisan talks aimed at putting an end to weeks of protests and mayhem.
On August 13, 2023, Coons held a meeting with Raila.
"It was a great pleasure as usual to meet and exchange notes with my friend Senator Chris Coons. An afternoon well spent," the Azimio leader wrote in a tweet on Sunday.
Sources indicate that Raila and Coons shared notes on the ongoing dialogue between Kenya Kwanza and Azimio la Umoja coalitions.
As it remains highly unusual for a Senator who doesn’t chair
a panel to travel internationally on the president’s behalf, his diplomatic
missions beckon the question "Who is Chris Coons?"
Chris Coons is a politician serving as the junior United States Senator from Delaware since 2010. He also boasts a profession in practising law.
He is known to be the 59-year-old highbrow politico sitting at Capitol Hill where he is a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
“I need you in the Senate,” President Biden told Coons as quoted by
Biden shares a close friendship with Coons thanks to the fact that they hail from Delaware and Biden also represented the state in the Senate.
The camaraderie automatically rendered Coons an unofficial White House envoy in the Senate, and that has allowed him the advantage of being among President Biden's most influential global emissaries.
Coons had always hoped and still does, to be America’s top diplomat and sit at the Secretary of State's office.
“One day, when the president and I talked after the election, he said to me ‘I need you in the Senate because I need someone who’s going to help build bipartisan solutions,’ and I respect that and appreciate the chance to continue serving," he told Politico.
Though he may not hold executive power, he’s the closest thing to a direct presidential representative at Capitol Hill. Even Republicans acknowledge so.
“He helps communicate the Hill’s position to the administration, what’s important, what members are thinking. He plays an invaluable role,” a senior Republican staffer told Politico.
His hallmark reputation has etched a level of trust in the State, assurance of longevity in serving under Biden and more walks along the red carpets of grand global forums and national Houses.
Coons has maintained that despite him being the 'bridge', he does not speak for president Biden even when appearing on his behalf. He has maintained he is a representative of the State.
His presence in Kenya, if political tensions maintain a high, will be frequent. He will remain to be a bridge between US and Kenya.
This article has been updated to include yet another visit to Kenya by Senator Chris Coons on August 13, 2023.
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