NAIROBI, KENYA — The U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Scott Gration, has announced his resignation, citing differences with Washington. The sudden decision leaves many questions unanswered.
In a statement Friday, Ambassador Scott Gration said he will resign from his post on July 28, after just over 14 months in office.
Gration said differences with Washington regarding his “leadership style and certain priorities” lead him to believe that it is the time to leave.
He said he submitted his resignation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama earlier this week.
The statement led to speculation in the Kenyan media that Gration differed with Washington on policy issues, and that a recent gay pride event hosted by the embassy may have been a source of tension.
Information Officer Katya Thomas at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi says that is not the case.
“That's absolutely untrue, the LGBT Pride is an American month of June awareness event and its part of our foreign policy agenda and we had that event,” said Thomas. "We're very happy to get that message across to the Kenyan public. Ambassador Gration's resignation has nothing to do with that event or with our advocacy of LGBT rights.”
Thomas said Gration will elaborate on his decision when he can, but that his statement stands for the time being.
Gration was appointed to the position in 2010 after spending two years as the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan.
Gration spent part of his childhood in Kenya, and served a two-year assignment in the country during a long career with the U.S. Air Force.
But the ambassador kept a low-profile in Kenya, rarely wading into the country's politics, unlike his predecessor Michael Rannenberger - a staunch and outspoken advocate of political reform and anti-corruption initiatives in Kenya.
The chief executive of the Law Society of Kenya, Apollo Mboya, says people in Kenya knew little about Gration.
“He has the alternative voice of the civil society, what needs to happen with regard to reforms in Kenya, what needs to happen before the next generation and he has been missing in action,” said Mboya.
Mboya said the next ambassador should be more vocal and ready to “pull punches.”
The next ambassador to Kenya will inherit some pressing issues, including a volatile security situation and the upcoming Kenyan elections.
Kenyan officials complained about a U.S. Embassy warning issued last week pulling its U.S. citizens out of the coastal city of Mombasa, because of an imminent terror threat, saying such warnings damage the economy.
A day later a grenade attack killed three people at a Mombasa bar.