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On November 30, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Bisa Williams to be Ambassador to the Republic of Niger. The WH released the following official bio:
Bisa Williams, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, was most currently acting Deputy Assistant Secretary with responsibility for Central America, the Caribbean, and Cuba in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. She has also served as Coordinator for Cuban Affairs in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the State Department and as Director for International Organizations at the National Security Council. As Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Port Louis, Mauritius, Ms. Williams oversaw the organization and production of the U.S.-Africa, trade-related conference, the “AGOA (Africa Growth Opportunity Act) Forum.”
Her other overseas assignments include France, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and Panama. Ms. Williams has also served as Special Assistant to Secretary of State; Special Assistant to the Coordinator of Assistance to the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union; and country officer for Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Cape Verde.
She received a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University; a Masters Degree from the University of California, Los Angeles; and a Masters Degree from the National War College of the National Defense University.
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UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) for 2009 ranked Niger 182nd out of 182 countries with data. The HDI provides a composite measure of three dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life (measured by life expectancy), being educated (measured by adult literacy and gross enrolment in education) and having a decent standard of living (measured by purchasing power parity, PPP, income). The country’s human poverty index is also at 55.8, just above Afghanistan and it has an adult illiteracy rate of 71.3, just above Afghanistan and Mali.
The Embassy in Niamey was established Feb 3, 1961, with Joseph W. Schutz as Charge d’Affaires ad interim. In the short history of the US Mission in Niger, we have had four non-career diplomats appointed as US Ambassador to Niamey since diplomatic relations were established. The last one appointed was Robert Casey, Jr. of Colorado who served there from 1982-1985 during the Reagan years.
If confirmed, Ms. Williams would succeed career diplomat, Bernadette M. Allen as chief of mission at the US Embassy in Niamey.
- WH Announcement via HuffPo (Text of official announcement seems to be currently MIA from the official WH website)
- Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate, 11/30/09
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- UN index rates life best in Norway, worst in Niger (seattletimes.nwsource.com)