US envoy to Kenya resigns

Ex US Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration/FILE

NAIROBI Kenya, Jun 29 – The US ambassador to Kenya has resigned citing “differences” with Washington over his leadership style and priorities, just over a year since he was appointed.

Scott Gration, a retired air force general and former US special envoy to Sudan, took up the post in Nairobi on May 2011.

“Differences with Washington regarding my leadership style and certain priorities lead me to believe that it’s now time to leave. Accordingly, I submitted my notice of resignation last Monday,” Gration said in a statement.

He provided no further details as to the nature of the disagreement.

Kenya is widely seen as a key base for the US in its efforts to tackle Islamist insurgents across the wider Horn of Africa region, including in Somalia where Al-Qaeda linked Al Shabaab fighters are fighting Western-backed forces.

“It has been a great honour and a profound privilege to be a part of the US State Department team for the past three years and to serve as the US Ambassador to Kenya and as the CEO of Team Kenya since May of 2011 .Accordingly, I submitted my notice of resignation last Monday to the Secretary of State and to the President of the United States of America, to be effective as of 28 July 2012,” the statement read.

Gration, a retired air force general and former US special envoy to Sudan has been America’s representative to Kenya since May 2011.

The statement quotes him saying that the opportunity to serve as US ambassador in Kenya was a dream job for him and his wife Judy, because it was a perfect opportunity to use his deep-rooted knowledge of Kenya.

Gration said he was hopeful Kenya would implement its constitutional reforms, hold elections next year, and proceed with the devolution of political and economic power.

“I am very proud of my 35-year career of dedicated and honourable service to our great nation, leading at all times with integrity first and the highest ethical standards,” the statement further said.

“Judy and I are looking forward to returning to the work about which we are so passionate. But as we depart, we will deeply miss Kenya, the Kenyan people, our partners in the diplomatic corps, and our colleagues in the US Mission. Our hearts will remain here with you and with the true friendships that will endure until death,” he added.

The US Embassy in Nairobi caused uproar from the Kenyan government after it issued a travel advisory last Saturday to its citizens cautioning them from travelling to Mombasa over a threat of an imminent terrorist attack.

A day after the travel advisory, three people were killed and several others wounded in a hand grenade attack on a bar in Mombasa.

Acting Head of the Civil Service Francis Kimemia and Tourism minister Dan Mwazo accused the US of economic sabotage for issuing the terror alert.

Kenya wrote a protest note to Washington through the US Embassy in Nairobi demanding a reversal of the advisory, but there has been no action on the same.

“It is a reckless advisory and it was totally uncalled for, It is aimed at sabotaging the country’s economy,” Kimemia had said at a press conference where he was accompanied by Tourism Minister Dan Mwazo.

Gration has resigned days after the US embassy hosted a party (The Pride celebration) for Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons (LGBT), a move that ruffled feathers in local religious ranks.

Gration however did not attend the event which was the first of its kind in the country and which is part of the Obama administration’s policy to fight prejudice against LGBT people.

Counselor for Public Affairs at the Embassy John Haynes remained tight lipped on his reaction to the resignation saying: “The statement speaks for itself; I cannot add anything to it.”

Kenya is widely seen as a key base for the US in its efforts to tackle Islamist insurgents across the wider Horn of Africa region, including in Somalia where Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab fighters are fighting Western-backed forces.

LORDRICK MAYABI

Lordrick is a graduate of the University of Nairobi with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. He is passionate about political and governance issues. He also takes keen interest in human rights matters, justice and is fond of sports.