Kenya's U.S. envoy quits over rift with Washington

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 29, 2012 8:14 AM
Kenya's U.S. envoy quits over rift with Washington

NAIROBI (Reuters) - The U.S. ambassador to Kenya has resigned just over a year after taking up the post, citing differences with Washington over priorities and his style of leadership, an embassy statement said on Friday.

Scott Gration's departure came a week after the U.S. embassy warned of a threat of an imminent militant attack in the port city of Mombasa, angering the Kenyan government which said the advisory amounted to "economic sabotage".

"Differences with Washington regarding my leadership style and certain priorities lead me to believe that it's now time to leave," Gration said in his resignation statement.

A senior official in Kenya's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the announcement was a surprise.

Political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi said Gration, who had been with the U.S. State Department for three years, had often been too hasty in "pulling out his guns".

"I think the ambassador had been a little gung-ho in his approach," Ngunyi said, giving the example of the Mombasa warning.

On Sunday, two days after the U.S. warning and a day after a grenade attack in tourism hub Mombasa, Kenya's Secretary to the Cabinet, Francis Kimemia, said the embassy had reneged on an agreement not to issue the alert.

There has been a surge in attacks on Kenyan soil blamed on Somali militants and their sympathizers since Kenya sent troops into Somalia in October last year.

Increasing insecurity has hurt the country's tourism industry and threatens to dampen economic growth this year in the region's biggest economy.

(Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by James Macharia and Pravin Char)