Politics & Government

USAID administrator Shah resigns

Raj Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development who most recently helped lead the humanitarian effort to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, has resigned.

“Raj, the son of proud Indian immigrants, has embodied America’s finest values by proactively advancing our development priorities, including ending global poverty, championing food security, promoting health and nutrition, expanding access to energy sources, and supporting political and economic reform in closed societies,” President Barack Obama said in a statement.

Shah had served in the administration for five years.

“Raj will be known not just as USAID’s 16th administrator, but as the administrator who reached up, and reached out, bringing a whole new set of stakeholders to the table, enlisting the help of non-governmental difference makers including corporations, foundations, advocacy groups, and faith-based communities,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. “Those partnerships are essential to creating the kind of sustainable change that builds from generation to generation, ending cycles of poverty and bringing societies to new levels of social and economic development. And those are the partnerships that Raj built.”

No reason was given for his departure. He had been widely praised for his work, though his agency faced questions about a variety of programs it was accused of setting up to incite unrest in Cuba, including infiltrating the underground hip-hop movement to recruit rappers to oppose the government.

In April, Shah refuted reports that his agency created a “Cuban Twitter” in the country at a congressional hearing.

An Associated Press report described the Twitter account ZunZuneo as a social network designed to “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society” and incite a “Cuban spring.”

Shah denied the program’s purpose went beyond improving communication networks within the country. “Working to improve platforms of communication is a core part of what USAID works to do,” he said at the time. “It’s inaccurate that [the program] goes beyond that.”

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