It is a pleasure to welcome Ambassador Godec once again before the Committee, in this case as the President’s nominee to be Ambassador to Kenya. His stewardship as Chargé over the last several months comes at a very challenging time for our large and important East Africa embassy. He has brought deft and experienced management to Nairobi and effectively sustained our varied interests and priorities with Kenyans and the Kenyan government at a critical time. Among the most important interests is United States support for a free and fair electoral process leading up to national elections in 2013, the first since the abhorrent violence that followed the 2007 elections.
United States interests extend broadly in East Africa and recognize the commitment Kenya has made in Somalia under the AMISOM umbrella, as well as its long support for regional peace initiatives. Kenya also has been a key counter-terrorism partner in a variety of areas that are of mutual concern with broad global potential for impact. These include Kenyan efforts fighting Al Shabab and building its own counter-terror capabilities in maritime and border security. Our extensive cooperation extends to providing a regional platform for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Center for Disease Control in securing biological materials that pose a threat to millions if neglected. I would like to thank Ambassador Godec for his expeditious review of a long-standing request incorporating DTRA into a large Embassy country team.
. . . .
A democratic Kenya, which embraces national reconciliation and
rejects corruption and impunity, is critical for the future of East Africa.
Since the deadly violence that swept Kenya following the disputed
December 2007 presidential elections, the United States has focused on
supporting political and constitutional reform in Kenya. Kenya’s new
constitution, adopted in August 2010, is one of the most progressive in
Africa and envisions nothing less than the complete overhaul of the
political system. It holds the promise of anchoring Kenya’s democracy
firmly in the rule of law. Despite facing many other challenges, including
internal political disagreements, drought, and the global economic crisis,
Kenya has made significant progress passing the legislation necessary to
implement the constitution. Kenya’s judicial reforms have been a
particular bright spot.
The upcoming March 2013 election is the next key moment for Kenya
in the implementation of its new constitution and in advancing political
reform. The responsibility for the election rests squarely with the Kenyan
government and people, and success, frankly, is not assured. If I am
confirmed, one of my top priorities will be to support Kenyan efforts to
make the election free, fair, and peaceful. We have a strong and varied set
of programs in place to assist institutions charged with carrying out the
most complex election in Kenya’s history. We are working with
government, civil society, religious leaders, community leaders, and youth
across the country to promote peaceful participation in the election. We
are also coordinating closely with the international community and other
partners on our election assistance to ensure the wise and effective use of
. . . .
Kenya’s security remains a major concern. It is inextricably linked to
our own, as was clearly illustrated in the 1998 bombing of our Embassy, carried out by al Qa’ida, which left 218 people dead and thousands injured.
Kenya has borne a heavy burden from the insecurity, extremist violence,
and humanitarian challenges associated with the conflict in Somalia. As a
troop contributing country to the African Union Mission in Somalia
(AMISOM), Kenya has helped to establish the security necessary for the
new government in Mogadishu to begin serving the needs of the Somali
people. In taking a higher profile in Somalia, however, Kenya
increasingly has become a victim of violent attacks by terrorists. If
confirmed, I will continue to support Kenya’s effort to secure its borders
and to protect its citizens, while working to ensure that Kenya respects
human rights and international law as it fights terrorism.
Kenya also hosts more than 600,000 refugees, primarily from Somalia,
which places a considerable burden on its limited resources. The United
States will continue to assist Kenya to meet its international obligations
with respect to refugees.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, a tangible indicator of Kenya’s importance to
the United States is the fact that U.S. Mission Nairobi is now our largest in
Africa. The staff at the embassy has recently weathered a period of
transition and uncertainty. In my brief time as Chargé d’Affaires, I have
been impressed by the professionalism, dedication, and integrity of the
Mission staff, both American and Kenyan. Mr. Chairman and Members of
the Committee, if confirmed, I would be honored to serve as the next U.S.
Ambassador to the Republic of Kenya and to lead the capable and
committed public servants at our Mission there.