PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti. U.S. Ambassador to Haiti James B. Foley will leave his post later this month, the embassy announced.
Foley, a career diplomat who has led the U.S. mission in Haiti since May 2003, will be replaced on an interim basis by former U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Timothy Carney, the embassy said in a statement Monday.
The embassy didn?t give a specific reason for Foley?s departure, saying only that the move had been long planned and wouldn?t affect U.S. policy in Haiti.
Embassy spokeswoman Carolyn Cooley said Foley would step down sometime in August, before Haiti?s scheduled general elections in October and November.
The change comes as Haiti?s U.S.-backed interim government and U.N. peacekeepers struggle to halt a wave of violence by armed gangs that threatens to disrupt the elections, meant to fill a power vacuum left after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in February 2004 revolt.
“The United States will continue to fully support the current transition process in Haiti, which should lead to elections at the end of the year and bring to power a government elected by the Haitian people,” the statement said.
Cooley said Foley would remain with the U.S. State Department but declined to say in what capacity.
Carney, who was ambassador to Haiti between 1998 and 1999, will hold the position of charge d?affaires until a new ambassador is named, the statement said.
Carney recently described Haiti?s U.S.-backed interim government as being in a state of systemic weakness after visiting the country earlier this year.
“The transitional authority is weaker than anyone had expected,” Carney told a gathering in March at the Haiti Democracy Project, a Washington-based think tank that he heads. “There doesn?t seem to be an ability to get things done.”
Carney also worked on the U.S.-led reconstruction team in Iraq in 2003, and was previously the U.S. ambassador to South Africa.
[Webmaster’s note: Sudan, not South Africa]