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US bids time over Kenya diplomat posting

Wednesday August 15 2012

Acting US Ambassador to Kenya Stephen Nolan speaks during a swearing-in ceremony of 30 new Peace Corps Public Health Volunteers at his Nairobi residence August 15, 2012.

Acting US Ambassador to Kenya Stephen Nolan speaks during a swearing-in ceremony of 30 new Peace Corps Public Health Volunteers at his Nairobi residence August 15, 2012. He said Kenya may have to wait a little longer before Washington sends a new ambassador to Nairobi.  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By LILLIAN ONYANGO [email protected]

Kenya may have to wait a little longer before Washington sends a new ambassador to Nairobi, a top US official has said.

Acting US ambassador to Kenya Stephen Nolan Wednesday described the process of getting a new diplomat as "convoluted" and said Kenya would have to do with stand-in representatives until a substantive ambassador is appointed.

Mr Nolan said he was posted to Kenya two weeks ago ahead of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit.

In June, former US ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration resigned, a year after he took up the position, citing “differences in leadership and style with Washington".

Mr Nolan said he would be in the country for a few more weeks before returning to the US and that another official will be sent to take his position as the Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy, Nairobi.

“Kenya is of interest to the US and so it is very important for Washington to have its representative here,” he told journalists at his Nairobi residence.

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US interests in the country include the tactical positioning in fighting Somalia-based Islamic militant group Al-Shabaab and the smooth transition of power in the war torn country.

He was speaking after officiating a swearing-in ceremony for the public health Peace Corps Volunteers.

Close eye

Mr Nolan said the US is keeping a close eye on Kenya’s next General Election and encouraged the youth to vote. He urged young people to resist politicians out to use them to perpetuate violence.

"There are millions of youth who have strong opinions which would shape the future of the country and they have to be involved in a positive way,” he said.

“Democracy is not so much about winning or losing, it is about participating.”

He added that Kenya has all the mechanisms to ensure that it runs a smooth election and transition.

“Kenya is committed to having a better election which will be a credit to itself and an example to the rest of the world,” the acting ambassador said.

Mr Nolan was the director of the Department of State’s Office of Southern African Affairs in Washington and had served as chief of mission at the US Embassy in Botswana in 2008-2011.

The 30 US citizens sworn in as Peace Corps volunteers had completed a ten-week training programme in Loitokitok.

They will be working with the Ministry of Public Health to address issues in the public health sector and share their knowledge with the communities they will be living with in the two years of their posting.

About 6,000 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Kenya while those presently in the country total 139.