The US Ambassador to Kenya resigned yesterday, following criticism of his management of the embassy and in advance of an internal government audit to be released soon. Details are discussed in today’s New York Times. The post’s vacancy comes at a fragile time in bilateral relations, as Kenya prepares for elections which once again raise the possibility of violence. A recent report by the Friends Committee on National Legislation provides an excellent overview of some of the major issues concerning the election preparations. Troops from Kenya and Uganda have made progress against al-Shabaab in southern Somalia, and the group remains a top concern for the US and regional African leaders. In light of these concerns, a group of scholars and policy experts have released the following statement on the vacancy and urging a swift replacement.
STATEMENT ON THE RESIGNATION OF U.S. AMBASSADOR TO KENYA, SCOTT GRATION“In light of the potential for violence in Kenya during the run-up to the 2013 national elections, and the challenges of sustaining full implementation of constitutional reform, we urge President Obama to immediately nominate a senior individual with deep conflict prevention expertise to replace Ambassador Scott Gration. The President’s nominee should understand Kenya’s complex history and the current political landscape – as well as that of the surrounding region. Given the crucial but delicate transition underway in Kenya, the nominee must also understand the critical role the U.S. government can play supporting Kenyan efforts to realize a successful democratic transition, and have the ability to work productively with all U.S. agencies and key international partners present in Kenya. It is essential that the Senate proceed rapidly with the confirmation process so the new appointee can get out to Nairobi as soon as possible and begin the vital work that must be done.”
Akwe Amosu, Director of Africa Advocacy, Open Society Foundations
Joel D. Barkan, Senior Associate, Africa Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies and co-chair of the Kenya Working Group
Bronwyn Bruton, Deputy Director, Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, The Atlantic Council
Jennifer Cooke, Director, Africa Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Richard Downie, Deputy Director, Africa Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Jeremy Konyndyk, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Mercy Corps
Tom Malinowski, Washington Director, Human Rights Watch
Sarah Margon, Associate Director, sustainable Security and Peace Building, Center for American Progress Action Fund and co-chair of the Kenya Working Group
Steve McDonald, Director, Africa Program, Woodrow International Center for Scholars
J. Peter Pham, Director, Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, The Atlantic Council
Sarah Pray, Senior Policy Analyst, Open Society Foundations
Cassidy Regan, Kenya Program Associate, Friends Committee on National Legislation
David Throup, Senior Associate, Africa Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
The individuals listed above are members of the Kenya Working Group (KWG). Their institutional affiliations are listed for identification only, and do not represent any official position of these organizations.
THE KENYA WORKING GROUP
The Kenya Working Group, co-chaired by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) and the Center for American Progress (CAP), is a nonpartisan forum for policy experts who seek to encourage a robust U.S. policy towards Kenya in the run up to and after the 2013 national elections in order to prevent violence and help support a successful democratic transition. Kenya has made important progress addressing many of the issues that enabled the 2007 electoral violence but much work remains. Similarly, the U.S. government has a vital support role to play, particularly by working closely with Kenyans and other key actors. The Kenya Working Group meets regularly to share information, generate policy recommendations, and support a constructive and active U.S. policy towards Kenya.