Kenyans are saying that U.S. Ambassador Scott Gration – who resigned last Friday after just 14 months in his post – was not a dream performer in what he had called a “dream job.” Nairobi’s Star newspaper said Gration’s “lacklustre diplomatic approach” was an issue. While Gration was seen as less “abrasive” than his predecessor, Michael Ranneberger, Gration had recently angered the Kenyan government by issuing a travel advisory to tourists because of perceived terrorist threats in Kenya. The Star reported he had agreed not to issue a public statement.
Scott Gration may have resigned as U.S. ambassador to Kenya, but he still led 4th of July celebrations at the embassy in Nairobi. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)
The Star also noted that the U.S. embassy recently hosted a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender pride event, the first of its kind in Kenya, which has not legalized homosexuality. Gration reportedly did not attend the event.
Gration himself cited differences with Washington over leadership style and priorities. Another paper in Nairobi, The East African cited unnamed sources in the embassy as saying Gration, a retired general, was “aloof, inflexible and a micro-manager.” The paper also said Gration’s departure came after the Kenyan embassy performed poorly in a U.S. government audit.
Analysts believe the embassy scored poorly on two of three key areas, democracy, defense and development. Gration was said to have given more attention to development projects at the expense of regional security and managing U.S. interest in Kenya’s internal politics, particularly in not advancing human rights.
Gration’s departure comes at a time when the U.S. sees sub-Saharan Africa as a rising economic force. There are concerns that U.S. influence in Kenya is waning, while that of China, India and Japan are on the rise.
The East African reports that Gration exit is a sign that the U.S. wants an ambassador who can engage effectively with Kenyan leaders ahead of the country’s elections in 2013. You can see its full report by clicking below on the “Straight to the Source” link.