Odile Gbayah: Implication behind appointment of new US ambassador to Central African Republic

About a week ago the decision of the United States to replace their ambassador to the Central African Republic was made public.

We also learned the name of the man who will from now on occupy the highest diplomatic position in the country, which is Cristopher Lamora.

Lamora, a professional diplomat, graduate of Walsh School of Foreign Service, is not a new personality in the African diplomatic landscape.

His professional career goes back 32 years, the newly appointed ambassador possessing a significant experience holding decision-making posts in several African counties.

In particular, he served as Washington’s information officer for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and occupied various positions in US embassies in Ghana and Cameroon.

For his Ghana service, he was chosen as a runner-up for 2021 Outstanding Chief of Mission Award. He has also been already involved at the US Embassy in Bangui in another function prior to his current appointment. But why was he named ambassador at this particular moment?

First of all, it should be pointed out – because this is a rare and striking fact for Africa – that Lamora is openly gay, and his former nomination as ambassador to Cameroun stirred public discontent among local population. This was due to the Cameroonian laws that make all same-sex relations in the country illegal.

The Central African Republic might not have anti-homosexual legislation in place, however, just like so many other African states it is known for its conservative morals.

Taking this into consideration, the appointment in question may be considered as provocative to a degree and disrespectful to the CAR’s authorities and its people.

Moreover, the new US ambassador to the CAR has experience in managing natural and mineral resources of the conflict-torn territories in the 2000s, which echoes the not-so-recent interest of the United States in Central Africa’s mines, especially the ones run by the Chinese.

Apparently, the assigning of Lamore to the CAR testifies to the US ambitions in the Central African mining sector’s increase.

But most importantly, it seems that the replacement of Patricia Mahoney by Cristopher Lamora is a dig at the Russian Federation and the prominent role it has been playing in the region for now almost a decade.

Thus, the new ambassador is familiar with the Russian language, which he studied as part of his international relations curriculum in college, as well as Russian culture and history and politics of the Soviet Union.

In the view of the above-mentioned facts, it is likely that the choice of Lamora at this particular juncture as American ambassador to Bangui is aimed at exacerbating the political rivalry between the US and Russia that have been battling for influence in the country and the region for a while now.

And this inter-state power struggle doesn’t seem to be fading away any time soon.

Odile Gbayah: Implication behind appointment of new US ambassador to Central African Republic

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