Windhoek – American diplomats and heads of missions across the globe, including Windhoek, have tendered their resignations following the just-ended United States presidential elections, which saw the Republican Party candidate, property mogul Donald Trump, elected to power.
Resignations are a mandatory and routine gesture after every presidential election in the US, meaning even if Democratic Party contender Hillary Clinton – whose party’s government is represented in Namibia – had won, the diplomats would have still been required to tender their resignations.
Trump was elected last week to become the 45th president of the United States of America.
The current group of diplomats was appointed by outgoing US President Barack Obama, a Democrat, but according to officials at the embassy in Windhoek, resignations are consistent with their country’s electoral process requirements.
Confirming this was spokesperson of the US Embassy in Windhoek Eric Atkins, who spoke to New Era after last week’s shock triumph of Trump, a former reality TV star.
“It is tradition for all ambassadors to symbolically submit a letter of resignation when a new president is elected,” Atkins explained.
“This would have occurred in the same manner, even if Secretary Clinton had won. The decision about whether or not to accept those resignations always rests with the incoming administration.”
It remains to be seen whether Trump – widely considered a conservative and right-wing candidate – would retain Obama’s appointees in Windhoek or replace them with his own lieutenants.
Atkins indicated that once the new administration nominates people for positions, the US Congress would have to vote to confirm the appointments.
The process can take some time and there is no hard and fast deadline for it to be completed, he explained.
“In President Obama’s post-election speech he said that he knows there are ideological differences between himself and President-elect Trump, but that he was in the same position eight years ago.”
Atkins recalls that at the time, Obama had commended former president George Bush’s administration for their professionalism in facilitating his transition to the White House and vowed to do the same.
“In Secretary [John] Kerry’s message to the State Department, he also stressed the importance of welcoming our new colleagues warmly and professionally and to provide them with all the assistance they need to ensure a seamless transition from one administration to the next.
“Everyone in the government knows that changes are coming. We just don’t know how quickly the process will occur,” Atkens noted.
Writing in New Era last Friday, political science lecturer at the University of Namibia Job Amupanda said with Trump’s victory, US-Namibia relations have become largely a matter of guesswork, as the Republican president-elect has been relatively vague on this approach to Africa.
“Since Trump’s Africa policy, with the exception of terrorism and the democrats mishaps in Libya, remains a subject of speculation there is little evidence that US-Namibia relations would change significantly,” Amupanda wrote from the US, where he has been participating as an election observer.
“If their words are to be taken seriously, it is also the view of US foreign policy bureaucrats dealing with Namibia, those not subjected to Trump’s hand, that not much is expected to change in terms of US-Namibia relations,” he wrote.