Trump denies U.S. Ambassador to Samoa one week extension

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WORK IN SAMOA: Ambassador Mark Gilbert and his wife Nancy Gilbert with Samoan students during one of his recent visits.

WORK IN SAMOA: Ambassador Mark Gilbert and his wife Nancy Gilbert with Samoan students during one of his recent visits.

The United States Ambassador to Samoa’s term is coming to an end.

That’s because President-elect Donald Trump's transition staff have issued a blanket edict on December 23 requiring politically appointed ambassadors to leave their postings by inauguration day, January 20.

The US ambassador, Mark Gilbert, was always at the end of his tenure after the shock result of the 2016 presidential election.

But, the State Department communique was a change, as in the past some ambassadors have been granted a stay, or an extension, to accommodate school-age children or family affairs on a case-by-case basis, the New York Times reports.

The US State Department denied extension requests for all its politically appointed staff.

Gilbert said he had applied for a one-week extension to pack, but this request was denied.

A former professional baseball player, he was appointed by Barack Obama and is a personal friend of the outgoing president.

Politically-appointed ambassadors must leave their post at the end of a presidential term. A senior Trump transition official told the New York Times there was no ill-will in the move, but it has uprooted the family arrangements of some appointees, in Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, and Belgium.

Gilbert said he was leaving New Zealand on January 20.

"It's very normal when there's a change of administration and especially when there's a change of party for the ambassadors to submit their resignation. That's the same for all senior level officials, justice department staff.

"That's normal procedure."

Gilbert said any ambassador or official in extenuating circumstances applied for an extension to a posting.

"It looks like in this case there has been a blanket 'no'. I did request a short one [extension] but that was also denied. A couple of weeks ago when I found out the extension was denied I booked my travel."

Gilbert and his wife Nancy waited two years for confirmation of the posting due to a Senate filibuster.

According to the NZ Herald, Gilbert has been walking the Routeburn track, choppering in to White Island and sailing to Kawau Island as he enjoys his last holiday before leaving.

The New Zealand holiday included East Cape, White Island, Mt Maunganui, Kawau Island, Golden Bay, Fox Glacier, Wanaka and the Routeburn great walk.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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