U.S. envoys appointed by Obama asked to quit by Inauguration Day


 Reuters International

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump talks to reporters as he and his wife Melania Trump arrive for a New Year's Eve celebration with members and guests at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 31, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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(Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's transition team has issued a blanket mandate requiring politically appointed ambassadors installed by President Barack Obama to leave their posts by Inauguration Day, the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand said on Friday.

"I will be departing on January 20th," Ambassador Mark Gilbert said in a Twitter message to Reuters.

The mandate was issued "without exceptions" through an order sent in a State Department cable on Dec. 23, Gilbert said.

He was confirming a report in the New York Times, which quoted diplomatic sources as saying previous U.S. administrations, from both major political parties, have traditionally granted extensions to allow a few ambassadors, particularly those with school-age children, to remain in place for weeks or months.

Officials from the State Department and Trump's transition team were was not immediately available for comment.

The order threatens to leave the United States without Senate-confirmed envoys for months in critical nations like Germany, Canada and Britain, the New York Times reported.

A senior Trump transition official told the newspaper there was no ill will in the move, describing it as a simple matter of ensuring Obama's overseas envoys leave the government on schedule, just as thousands of political aides at the White House and in federal agencies must do.

Trump has taken a strict stance against leaving any of Obama's political appointees in place as he prepares to take office on Jan. 20, aiming to break up many of his predecessor's signature foreign and domestic policy achievements, the newspaper said.

Diplomats told New York Times the order has thrown their personal lives into a tailspin, leaving them scrambling to secure living arrangements and acquire visas allowing them to stay in their countries so their children can remain in school.

(Reporting by Jonathan Barrett and Tom Westbrook in Sydney; Additional reporting by Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru.; Editing by Sunil Nair and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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 Reuters International