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The US envoy to Nairobi is available five months after his appointment

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The US envoy to Nairobi is available five months after his appointment


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The American business manager Meg Whitman. PHOTO | AFP

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Summary

  • Kenya could wait longer for her to take on the role with U.S. reports saying some Republicans in the U.S. Senate have blocked some of Biden’s ambassadorial nominees because of unrelated political objections.
  • The delay in taking on her role comes amid growing unrest in Nairobi over the slow pace of the Biden administration in concluding a free trade agreement with Kenya, which was initiated by his predecessor Trump.
  • Ms Whitman, who previously served as CEO of technology giants eBay and Hewlett-Packard, is, according to Forbes’ latest estimate, worth $ 5 billion (Sh575 billion).

President Joe Bidens’ nominee for US ambassador to Kenya, billionaire Meg Whitman, has yet to take up the crucial diplomatic post nearly five months after she was elected to the role, the White House has revealed.

Her nomination, which was made in December last year, is awaiting approval by the U.S. Senate.

The White House Presidential Personnel Office – which is tasked with investigating new Biden appointees – listed Nairobi as one of Washington’s diplomatic outposts that remains vacant in an update posted on its Web site on April 22.

No justification was given for the vacancy.

Kenya could wait longer for her to take on the role with U.S. reports saying some Republicans in the U.S. Senate have blocked some of Biden’s ambassadorial nominees because of unrelated political objections.

The delay in taking on her role comes amid growing unrest in Nairobi over the slow pace of the Biden administration in concluding a free trade agreement with Kenya, which was initiated by his predecessor Trump.

Foreign policy

It also comes at a time when Washington, which sees Nairobi as central to its regional foreign policy interests, has expressed concern that Kenya’s central role as a regional peace broker could be compromised by domestic distractions in this year’s election.

Kenya, a strategic ally of the United States in the Horn of Africa, faces a stability test in a highly controversial parliamentary election at a time when it has emerged as a player in mediating peace in conflicts in Ethiopia, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Vice President William Ruto and ODM party leader Raila Odinga are the leading hopefuls to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta, who will leave office at the end of the two constitutional terms.

Ms Whitman, who previously served as CEO of technology giants eBay and Hewlett-Packard, is, according to Forbes’ latest estimate, worth $ 5 billion (Sh575 billion), making her the 151st richest person in the United States last September.

Analysts say the lack of an ambassador could hamper the U.S.’s ability to carry out its diplomacy and maintain its influence in countries where embassy staff are assigned to handle diplomatic matters because a functioning official cannot perform the job as efficiently as the material ambassador.

Eric W. Kneedler became ChargĂ© d’Affaires ad interim at the US Embassy in Nairobi in January last year after former US Ambassador Kyle McCarter resigned.

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