The move would allow Washington to strengthen its security ties with the African country as its forces leave Niger © X / @WilliamsRuto

US President Joe Biden will grant Kenya major non-NATO ally (MNNA) status this week while the East African nation’s president, William Ruto, is in Washington on a state visit, the Associated Press reported on Thursday, citing two anonymous US officials.

This would make Kenya the first sub-Saharan African country and the continent’s fourth after Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia to receive the designation.

The title is conferred by Washington on countries that have strategic working relationships with the US Army but are not members of NATO. It allows recipients to obtain more sophisticated weapons from the US government while also fostering closer security cooperation.

The move comes as Washington prepares to withdraw troops from Chad and Niger amid its declining influence in Africa.

According to Politico, the MNNA symbolic status will be an upgrade in Kenya-US relations, potentially giving Washington more influence in East Africa. Kenya, like several other African nations, has maintained close relations with China and Russia, which has been a cause of concern for the US and its allies, including France and Germany.

“If any country in Africa that does not already have the status has a prima facie case for being designated a major non-NATO ally, it is Kenya,” Politico quoted Peter Pham, a former top Africa official in the Trump administration, as saying.

“Upgrading how we partner with Africa has been an important through line during our administration,” Judd Devermont, who until this year led Africa work in Biden’s National Security Council, also said, according to the outlet.

President Ruto arrived in Washington on Wednesday for a three-day visit to discuss a variety of issues with Biden, including trade, debt relief, a planned deployment of 1,000 Kenyan police officers to combat gang violence in Haiti, and the Sudan conflict.

Kenyan security mission to Haiti motivated by money – court advocate Kenyan security mission to Haiti motivated by money – court advocate

“Kenya and the United States of America share common positions on global peace and stability. We look forward to stronger bonds and partnerships with the US in resolving conflicts and tackling insecurity, especially in the Horn of Africa,” Ruto wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Meanwhile, Benedict Wachira, a Kenyan High Court advocate, told RT in an exclusive interview published on Thursday that the East African country’s citizens are opposed to the government’s decision to send police to Haiti.

The Biden administration has commended Kenya for demonstrating global leadership with the UN-backed mission, but Wachira claims that Ruto “is just doing it for the sake of money.”

Ruto has previously faced criticism from political analysts, including Kenyan researcher Kimanzi Nicholas, who told RT last year that the US government was using the president to maintain control over several African countries.