July 9, 2007
Dear Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Gabon:
I appreciate your concern and support for the Peace Corps and for former Peace Corps Tanzania Country Director Christine Djondo, who departed Tanzania after U.S. Ambassador Michael Retzer exercised his authority as chief of mission and withdrew her country clearance, effective June 8, 2007.
Ms Djondo is a highly respected Peace Corps staff member who did an outstanding job of leading the Peace Corps program in Tanzania. Prior to her tenure in Tanzania, she exhibited similarly fine leadership qualities while serving as country director in Lesotho and Gabon.
Although we remain disappointed with the Ambassador's decision, we are delighted to have Ms. Djondo on our headquarters staff serving as the Special Assistant to the Regional Director for Africa. In that capacity, she is the focal point for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in the Africa Region. The PEPFAR program model that was unveiled under Ms. Djondo's leadership and guidance in Tanzania is being replicated in other Peace Corps countries in Africa, and she is uniquely qualified for coordinating that effort.
Ms. Djondo has always been held in high regard by the Peace Corps for her leadership and management skills, and we are extremely confident that she will continue to provide outstanding service to the agency in her new capacity.
In your letter, you request an investigation into Ambassador Retzer's decision regarding Ms. Djondo. I can assure you that all necessary actions with the appropriate parties have been taken with respect to this case, and the Peace Corps in confident that the full integrity and independence of the agency has been reaffirmed. By way of example, I would cite the recent cable by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to chiefs of mission reaffirming the basic principles that govern the relationship between Peace Corps posts and U.S. missions abroad.
It may also interest you to know that former Congressman Mark Green has been nominated as the next U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania. The Peace Corps fully supports his expeditious confirmation, and we are looking forward to working with him.
Again, thank you for your support of Ms. Djondo and the Peace Corps, and for your service to the people of Gabon.
Director, Peace Corps