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Newsline: Former US Ambassador in Nassau had ‘dysfunctional leadership’

The American Embassy in Nassau is now in the process of stabilising itself following “an extended period of dysfunctional leadership” presided over by former Ambassador Nicole Avant, a published US Department of State report claimed. The report painted a picture of a US Ambassador who spent extensive time outside of The Bahamas during her tenure and who contributed to shortcomings throughout the Embassy in Nassau. In the report, the US State Department emphasised that during Ambassador Avant’s time in office “cables written (show) little political reporting or analysis on international crime, drug smuggling, and illegal migration or on prevention of terrorism.” A lack of confidence in local medical providers was also noted as Embassy employees thought ambulance services to be unreliable, the report states. There was also a general feeling, the report said, that medical care of any kind could not be obtained locally. An inspection of the Nassau-based Embassy was conducted from September 29 to October 12, 2011, by the Inspector General, just weeks before Ms Avant presented then Governor General Arthur Hanna with her credentials, signifying a soon ending term. Ms Avant left the country on November 22, 2011 after a two-year-tour of duty. Since then, Ms Avant, according to a January 31 White House Press Pool Report, has been extremely active in the Obama campaign as she hosted a fundraising dinner at her home for the second term hopeful. However, the report published in January 2012 and based on interviews with employees, officials of various governmental agencies, direct observations, and embassy records partly credited Ms Avant with the Embassy’s shortcomings. The report said: “The Ambassador had not had frequent policy-level interaction with the Department or other Washington agencies.” In addition, the report noted that Ms Avant’s lack of regular contact due to “her extensive travel out of the country and preference to work from the Ambassador’s residence for a significant portion of the work day, contributed to a perception of indifference.” Ms Avant was absent for 276 days during a 670-day period from November 19, 2009 to September 19, 2011. An average of 12 days per month, the report said. A further break-down showed that 84 days were non-work which included weekends and holidays with 102 personal leaves. Ms Avant also travelled to the US for 77 work days on what she identified as business. Only 23 of them have been identified as official travel orders.

http://www.tribune242.com/sports/02262012_AMBASSADOR_news2012-02-27T08-21-32