Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Michael Johnson ruffled feathers after he announced the cancellation of President William Ruto’s scheduled address to the legislative house. 

Ruto, who is set to embark on an official visit to the USA later this month, had been slated to address a joint session of the Congress where he would get a platform to state his ideals and Kenya’s commitment to its ties with the US.

Johnson, a member of the Republican party, blamed the cancellation of Ruto’s visit on what he termed as scheduling restraints.

“Unfortunately, due to scheduling restraints, we could not accommodate a request for remarks before a Joint Session,” Johnson told the house. 

The move irked a majority of ranking lawmakers who accused the Speaker of rebuking them.

Richard E. Neal, who represents Massachusetts’s 1st congressional district, blasted Johnson for failing to recognise the importance of the diplomatic relation between the US and Nairobi. 

Neal recalled hosting former president Uhuru Kenyatta; he said their engagements were fulfilling and of great success.

He counselled Johnson to follow in his footsteps.

“I had the privilege of hosting former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, where we spoke about the great opportunities to strengthen relations between our two economies present, and since then, Kenya has only continued to demonstrate its commitment to reaffirming our 60-year partnership. With the Biden Administration already rising to the rightful occasion by hosting a state dinner, the Congress must do the same,” partly read Neal’s statement.

Barbara Lee, another lawmaker from the Democrat party, termed the cancellation as a disrespect to Ruto and the Kenyan people.

“Disgraceful. Rather than strengthening relationships with our allies, once again the Pro-Putin caucus shows its true colours by denying a critical East African ally a chance to address Congress. The Kenyan people and President Ruto deserve far more respect,” she said. 

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