Haiti

Low-key U.S. ambassador to Haiti steps down and is leaving country

U.S. ambassador to Haiti Peter Mulrean, left, listens to Jacklin St. Fleur, hospital director, while they visit the Saint Nicolas Hospital during the comprehensive cervical cancer initiative, in Saint-Marc, Haiti, Wednesday Dec. 2, 2015. A new health program was launched to battle deadly cervical cancer in an impoverished Haiti, which has the world’s highest rate of the preventable disease.
U.S. ambassador to Haiti Peter Mulrean, left, listens to Jacklin St. Fleur, hospital director, while they visit the Saint Nicolas Hospital during the comprehensive cervical cancer initiative, in Saint-Marc, Haiti, Wednesday Dec. 2, 2015. A new health program was launched to battle deadly cervical cancer in an impoverished Haiti, which has the world’s highest rate of the preventable disease. AP

Haiti is losing a member of its foreign diplomatic corps.

After 16 months as the United States’ ambassador to Haiti in Port-au-Prince, Peter Mulrean, the bow-tie wearing, low-key ambassador, is leaving his post.

Mulrean is retiring, the State Department confirmed. He is expected to depart Haiti on Monday.

“Ambassador Mulrean is a highly regarded diplomat who has done an excellent job in Haiti and we appreciate his service. This was strictly a personal decision on his part,” a State Department official said. “We wish him and his family all the best as they move to the next chapter of their life.”

Ambassador postings are typically three years.

Unlike many of his predecessors, Mulrean preferred a behind-the-scenes approach as he met with Haitian elected officials to relay the U.S.’s position and tried to help Haiti steer out of its latest political crisis. During his brief tenure in Haiti, Mulrean faced several challenges, including Haiti’s fraud-tainted 2015 contentious presidential vote that forced a rerun, a transitional government and eventually the inauguration of a new president, Jovenel Moïse.

He also oversaw the U.S.’s aid response in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, which battered Haiti’s southern peninsula and left hundreds dead. The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince said in a statement Monday that Mulrean “is proud to have supported the successful Haitian electoral process.”

The recipient of numerous awards, Mulrean is a career foreign service officer who was tapped by former President Barack Obama in May 2015 to serve in Haiti. He was confirmed by the Senate that August, and presented his credentials to former Haitian President Michel Martelly two months later, just days before Haiti’s October 2015 presidential vote.

Mulrean joined the foreign service in 1988, and spent most of his career in Europe, including a stint at the U.S. Embassy to the Netherlands in The Hague and as an exchange diplomat to the European Commission in Brussels. Before arriving in Haiti, he served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. mission to the United Nations.

While there has been jockeying for the top U.S. job in Haiti even before Mulrean’s announced retirement by some prominent Haitian Americans, the State Department said the embassy will be led by Chargé d’Affaires Brian Shukan, currently the deputy chief of mission, until a replacement is nominated by the White House and confirmed by the Senate.

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