By Samwel Ndalusia,
November 5th, 2017,
The NASA coalition Chief Raila Odinga is set to leave the country for Washington DC this weekend to majorly seek the support of the United States Congress in promoting democracy in Kenya and to especially encourage the electoral reforms.
According to the NASA co-principal Moses Wetangula, the opposition leader is on a trip to the United States to enlighten the Congress on the Kenyan political situation.
“He is going to address the Congress on the situation in Kenya,” Mr. Wetang’ula was quoted by the Nation.
The Bungoma senator had earlier on while speaking at a campaign rally in support of Ford Kenya’s candidate for the Kitutu Chache South member of the National Assembly seat Richard Onyonka said Mr. Odinga’s speech to the Congress will focus mainly on the injustices during the August 8 election and the October 26 repeat presidential election. The senator also stated that President Uhuru is trying to destroy democracy in the country.
“Mr. Kenyatta can have the crown but we will not let him have the power,” thundered Wetangula adding that he too will later in the week be heading out to the European Union to champion the NASA coalition’s cause.
The United States Congress holds joint sessions and meetings on special occasions such as State of the Union addresses by the President of the United States, presidential inaugurals, and counting of electoral votes.
However, for more than a hundred times now, the joint sessions have also been held to allow foreign dignitaries specifically the heads of state or government to address the Congress.
According to Wikipedia, The first foreign dignitary to address a joint session of Congress was Ambassador Andre’ de Laboulaye of France who addressed a joint session on May 20, 1934, to memorialize the centennial anniversary of the death of Marquis de Lafayette.
The first non-dignitary to address a joint meeting of Congress was Polish Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa in 1989. Nelson Mandela, then Deputy President of the African National Congress addressed a joint meeting in 1990.
An address to a joint meeting of Congress is available by invitation only. As such, an agreement on whom to invite, and when they will speak, is generally reached between the House of Representatives and the Senate. The speaker of the House then sends a formal letter of invitation to the guest.
So far, only five leaders from Africa have addressed the United States Congress with the latest African leader to address the Congress being Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia on March 15, 2006.
Others African leaders who have addressed US Congress are;
- Nelson Mandela, first as the Deputy President of the African National Congress of South Africa in June 1990 and later as President of South Africa in October 1994.
- President William R. Tolbert, Jr., of Liberia on September 23, 1976.
- President Anwar El Sadat of Egypt on November 5, 1975.
- President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia on May 4, 1961.
It is worth noting that all addresses by African leaders to the US Congress were mainly done by heads of state or government except for the first address by the late Nelson Mandela that he did as the Deputy President of the African National Congress, South Africa in June 1990.
Other leaders across the world who have had opportunities to address the US Congress include His Holiness Pope Francis, former President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, Prime Ministers Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel, Julia Gillard of Australia & Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom among others.