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Ruto versus Abiy’s Political Position in the Eyes of the US

Ruto Abiy Diplomacy East Africa
Abiy and Ruto ( Photo : FNC/File)

By Abe Lema 

In the context of East African politics, the influence of President William Ruto of Kenya versus Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia in the eyes of the United States can be analyzed through several lenses, including diplomatic relations, economic partnerships, security cooperation, and regional leadership. Here’s a detailed exploration of their respective standings and implications:

1. Diplomatic Relations

President William Ruto of Kenya:

  • Positive Engagement: President Ruto’s visit to the US underscores Kenya’s proactive approach to fostering strong diplomatic relations with Washington. The US views Kenya as a stable and reliable partner in East Africa.
  • Focus on Partnerships: Ruto has emphasized economic cooperation, trade agreements, and security collaboration, aligning with US interests in the region.
  • Human Rights and Governance: Kenya has generally maintained a better human rights record compared to Ethiopia, which aligns more closely with US values and foreign policy goals.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia:

  • Strained Relations: Abiy’s tenure has seen deteriorating relations with the US, primarily due to the Tigray conflict and associated human rights abuses. The US has imposed sanctions and reduced aid in response to these issues.
  • Internal Focus: Abiy’s government has been preoccupied with internal conflicts, limiting its capacity to engage positively on the international stage.

2. Economic Partnerships


  • Trade and Investment: Kenya is actively seeking to enhance trade relations with the US, focusing on sectors such as technology, agriculture, and manufacturing. The renewal and potential expansion of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) are pivotal.
  • Investment Climate: Kenya’s relatively stable political environment and strategic economic policies make it an attractive destination for US investment.


  • Economic Challenges: The ongoing conflict has severely impacted Ethiopia’s economy, discouraging foreign investment. The suspension of US aid has further strained the economic situation.
  • Potential for Growth: Despite current challenges, Ethiopia has significant potential for economic growth, particularly in manufacturing and agriculture, if stability is restored.

3. Security Cooperation


  • Counter-Terrorism: Kenya is a key partner in US-led counter-terrorism efforts in East Africa, particularly against Al-Shabaab in Somalia. The US supports Kenya’s security apparatus through funding, training, and intelligence sharing.
  • Regional Stability: Kenya’s role in promoting regional stability aligns with US interests, making it a crucial ally in maintaining peace and security in East Africa.


  • Internal Security Issues: Ethiopia’s internal conflicts have diverted its focus from regional security cooperation. The US has expressed concerns about human rights violations by Ethiopian security forces.
  • Historical Role: Historically, Ethiopia has been a significant partner in regional security, but current instability has diminished its capacity to contribute effectively.

4. Regional Leadership and Influence


  • Diplomatic Leadership: Kenya’s active diplomacy, exemplified by Ruto’s US visit, enhances its influence in regional and international forums, including the African Union (AU) and the United Nations.
  • Economic Hub: Nairobi’s status as a financial and logistical hub in East Africa further cements Kenya’s leadership position.


  • Geopolitical Significance: Despite current challenges, Ethiopia remains geopolitically significant due to its size, population, and historical influence in the region.
  • Potential Mediation Role: If Ethiopia can resolve its internal conflicts, it could regain its status as a regional leader and mediator in East African affairs.


In the eyes of the United States, President Ruto of Kenya currently holds a more favorable position compared to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia. Ruto’s proactive diplomacy, stable governance, and alignment with US economic and security interests enhance Kenya’s influence. Conversely, Abiy’s leadership is marred by internal conflict and human rights concerns, which have strained US-Ethiopian relations and diminished Ethiopia’s regional influence.

For the US, Kenya represents a reliable partner in promoting regional stability, economic growth, and security cooperation. Ethiopia, while still geopolitically important, needs to address its internal challenges to restore its diplomatic and economic standing both regionally and internationally.

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of


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  1. This is a superficial explanation of regional politics as pertains to US interests. The reality is more complex than that! Abiy is very secretive and hence little is known of the extent of his consorting with Americans. Incompetence runs through the media right down to the last aisle in parliament. One thing is certain: Ethiopia after Haile Selassie, Mengistu, and Meles has under Abiy lost its place in the world of diplomacy. Only Abiy would say something like, By hook or by crook, we will acquire a sea port because we are a mighty nation, and get his supporters to sing his praises in the streets of Addis as a conquering lion of sorts. The next day Somalia (think about this for a minute) kicks Ethiopian ambassador out of the country! What Kenya is doing is, in effect, stealing the show as Abiy and his Admin continue on the path to greater incompetence and embarrassing missteps.

    The US has now come up with a new lollypop; this time it is MNNA (major non-Nato ally). Kenya is willing to be christened mnna for few bucks and let the military industrial complex hoard its hardware, etc within its borders. And Kenyans, like Egyptians will be savagely robbing the nation with little censure from America and its allies!

  2. I don’t see anything that can be judged as worrisome by the new status of Kenyan and USA’s relationship. I see it just another upgrade and I don’t sense any sign of one is welcome to the big house and another one bent sent to the dog house. We should remember that Kenya was unstable along ethnic lines, for example, between the Kikuyu and Luo. The 2007-2008 bloody conflict is still an open file. But Kenya somehow has found ways to resolve the problem and now you can hear a pin drop along the ethnic fault line. It must generously be rewarded for that achievement. Don’t forget Kenya and Ethiopia have a defense pact signed in and still effective since the late 1960’s. For Good Ole USA, it is like getting all the eggs in one basket and it should be taken as good news for Ethiopia, Kenya and USA. Let’s move on.

  3. Make that: . I see it just another upgrade and I don’t sense any sign of one is welcome to the big house and another one being sent to the dog house.


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