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Still No Us Ambassador

TWO years after the last US Ambassador to the Bahamas stepped down, the country is still waiting for a replacement.

The US Embassy in the Bahamas announced on October 27, 2011, that Nicole Avant would soon end her tenure as the 13th US Ambassador to the Bahamas.

According to the embassy, Ambassador Avant wanted to return to private life and devote more time to her family.

On Tuesday, November 22, 2011, she formally stepped down and then Deputy Chief of Mission, John Dinkelman, moved in as Charg� d’Affaires.

Two years later, Mrs Avant has still not been replaced.

On Tuesday this week the White House named two picks for US ambassadors: Robert Barber is President Barack Obama’s pick for Iceland and Mark Gilbert, a former Chicago White Sox player, for New Zealand.

They need to be confirmed by the US Senate, and would then join others nominated during the year for posts in South Africa, Denmark, Spain and Germany.

When asked yesterday about having no US ambassador to the Bahamas, Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell told The Tribune that the question should be “directed to the US government’s representative”.

However, up to press time The Tribune was still awaiting a response from a US state government representative.

For his part, Hubert Chipman, FNM Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, said when the US will appoint a new ambassador to the Bahamas is the “million dollar question”.

“I haven’t talked to anybody about it,” he said, adding: “I think we have a very good relationship with the US and I don’t think the lack of an ambassador shows the US doesn’t value its relationship with the Bahamas.”

He added that the lack of a US ambassador to the Bahamas has had nothing to do with the alleged abuse of Cubans at the Detention Centre earlier this year.

“Marco Rubio then said what they wanted to say about that situation but an appointment has been pending long before that,” he said, referring to the Florida senator who was among those American officials in August who criticised the Bahamian government for repatriating 24 Cubans to Cuba after the Panamanian government offered asylum to 19.

Mr Chipman said: “The Bahamas isn’t considered a high risk area. While we would like to see a US ambassador, a charg� d’affaires in another country told me once that it’s a dream to get an appointment like that because we don’t have any headaches.”

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