Because it is the geographic and commercial hub of Eastern Africa, Kenya is the “anchor state” of the region and an important bilateral partner of the United States. As Kenya goes, so goes the region.
Notwithstanding Kenya’s remarkable recovery in recent years, the country’s potential for violence ahead of national elections next year remains high. Challenges also remain to full implementation of constitutional reforms passed in 2010.
We therefore urge President Obama to immediately nominate a senior individual with deep conflict-prevention expertise to replace Ambassador J. Scott Gration, who resigned last week [“U.S. ambassador to Kenya resigns ahead of report critical of his performance,” World, June 30].
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 in supporting these efforts and must have the ability to work productively with all U.S. agencies and key international partners 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.
Joel D. Barkan and Sarah Margon, Washington
Mr. Barkan is a senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Africa Program. Ms. Margon is the associate director of the Center for American Progress’ Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative. They co-chair the Kenya Working Group.