US President Barack Obama has appointed Harry Thomas Jr as Washington’s new ambassador to Zimbabwe to succeed Bruce Wharton, who left the country in August. Thomas, an African American diplomat who once served at the US embassy in Harare, was sworn in on Tuesday in Washington DC in the presence of his family and close colleagues on Tuesday.
On his appointment Ambassador Thomas said: “I want to express my appreciation to President Barack Obama, secretary Kerry, and Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield for the confidence they have shown in appointing me as our ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe.
“I have tremendous admiration for ambassador Bruce and Julie Wharton’s work in Zimbabwe and also for the superb team of Zimbabweans and Americans working jointly for the betterment of both nations. I look forward to returning to the beautiful land where our daughter Casey learned to walk, talk and emerged with a Zimbabwean accent that befuddled our family and friends when we returned home.”
Thomas said he was excited to introduce his wife, Mithi to the wonders of Zimbabwe, which include Great Zimbabwe, the roar of Victoria Falls, the beauty of Hwange National Park and most importantly the kind and generous Zimbabwean people. “We look forward to being respectful guests in Zimbabwe,” added Thomas.
Born on June 3, 1956 in New York City, Ambassador Thomas joined the Foreign Service in 1984. He served as the US ambassador to Philippines 2010 to 2013. He is also a former US ambassador to Bangladesh, where he served from 2003 to 2005. From 2007 to 2009 he was director general of the US Foreign Service.
In addition to his tenures as ambassador to Bangladesh and the Philippines, his earlier postings included service in the US embassies in India, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Peru.
He also served as executive secretary of the US department of state, director state department operations centre, and special assistant to the then US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. As of September, 2013, Thomas had been serving as the state department’s diplomat-in-residence for the Southwest.