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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 17th May 2018

Washington's new man in Africa

Blue Lines

Retired Ambassador Tibor P. Nagy has finally emerged as the choice for Assistant Secretary of African Affairs 475 days after Donald Trump was inaugurated as United States President. Nagy, a Trump loyalist, now has to win approval in Congress, where his name was mooted in March.

The appointment may bring relief to an Africa Bureau sapped of morale, leadership, and expertise. Nagy will replace Ambassador Donald Yamamoto, who took the role on an interim basis. Under Trump, Africa has been relegated further down the totem pole of US government concerns. The Bureau faces cuts in funding, a personnel crisis in Washington and at embassies abroad, and scant interest from the White House in the human rights and good governance agenda.

However, Nagy has a long experience as a career dipomat, including postings as Ambassador to Guinea(1996-99) and Ethiopia (1999-2002). To an administration which has extolled a harder line against political refugees and migrants, Nagy brings personal experience of displacement and statelessness. He was born in Hungary in 1949, where his father, Tibor Nagy Snr., was an army engineer who later became  active in the revolution of 1956. Following the  Soviet invasion, father and son fled on foot to Austria, where they were processed for political asylum in the US. After nine months they were admitted and Nagy senior served as a senior official in the US Agency for International Development.