BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Commonwealth leaders, including those of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will only vote for a new Secretary General to replace incumbent Dame Patricia Scotland if they fail to reach consensus on the matter during of their summit in Rwanda next month.
A Commonwealth spokesperson told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) on Friday that “as is customary” the consensus vote will take place at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
“As stipulated in the agreements which govern the Commonwealth and in accordance with precedents, a decision on the reappointment of the incumbent Secretary-General for a second term will be taken by Heads of Government at CHOGM, Kigali, by consensus as is customs.
“If the leadership decides not to reappoint the incumbent general secretary, member countries are invited to submit candidates for consideration by the heads of CHOGM,” the spokesperson told the CMC.
Earlier this week, Belize Prime Minister John Briceno, who is also chairman of the 15-member regional integration grouping, said CARICOM leaders will vote for “a candidate of their choice” when Commonwealth leaders will meet for CHOGM June 20-25. in Rwanda
Jamaica had apparently scuttled any attempt by CARICOM to have a consensus candidate for the post, with Kingston defending the decision to appoint its Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith, for the post.
In April, Caribbean leaders issued a statement saying they were still split in their support for the two candidates – Scotland and Johnson Smith – for the post, agreeing instead to appoint a sub-committee to look into the matter further.
CARICOM has not announced a date when the regional leadership subcommittee will meet the two Caribbean candidates for the post.
Scotland was elected to the CHOGM post in Malta in 2015, becoming the second Caribbean Secretary General and the first woman to hold the position.
Scotland has already said that if reappointed she would only seek to remain in the post for two years, a reference to the fact that she would have been in post for a total of eight years.
This would allow Africa to take its place in the rotation system and appoint a Secretary General from within Africa and in line with the precedent in two years.
The Commonwealth spokesperson told CMC Scotland was appointed by CHOGM leaders in 2015 for a four-year term, “renewable for a further four-year term, taking office in April 2016.
“Following the postponement of CHOGM in 2020 and again in 2021, due to the impact of COVID-19, the first term of the Secretary-General has been extended for two years and the renewal of the term of the Secretary-General has been postponed until to the Chiefs had the chance to meet at a CHOGM. The Chiefs have confirmed that they will meet in Kigali in June 2022,” the spokesperson told CMC.
Last month Dominica, which nominated Scotland for a second term, said it remained ‘very confident’ that it would be re-elected ‘and that at the end of the day countries have to vote and we know how elections are taking place.
“We are very confident that it can pass but we would not want to have divisive and contentious elections. If you take this divisive approach, whoever wins will struggle to function properly in that office,” Skerrit said, adding “we are not at war with Jamaica, we are not at odds with Jamaica.” , added the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit. .
But Jamaica said it was necessary to point out that the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which governs the regional integration movement “aims for the coordination of foreign policy, including candidacies for positions in external forums, in the possible.
“It does not impose harmonization and therefore recognizes the sovereign decisions of member states. Jamaica’s decision was made not only within the framework of the CARICOM treaty, but more importantly, by virtue of its belief that the leadership offered would be in the interest of the Commonwealth”.
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne called Johnson Smith’s entry into the race a “monumental mistake”.
“Those who seek to divide and conquer are encouraging Jamaica to field a candidate in opposition to the current Secretary General, who is on a CARICOM rotation,” Browne told CMC.
Meanwhile, a regional political observer told CMC that Caribbean countries should take heed of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s message that the UK will ‘back’ Johnson Smith for the post of Commonwealth Secretary General. .
“She has vast experience and support to unite our unique family of nations and seize the opportunities ahead,” the British Prime Minister said in a social media post.
Jamaica’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, welcoming “the UK’s endorsement”, said his vision “is for our family of nations to deliver meaningfully for all members in a rapidly changing world.”
“I am heartened to see the UK government join us on this journey towards shared peace and prosperity for all our peoples,” she added.
But the political observer told CMC “it is the established duty of the UK as sitting president to maintain neutrality.
“I am extremely disappointed that they have chosen to abuse their position to publicly support a candidate. This goes against the Commonwealth values, processes and customs they are expected to uphold and further aggravates their behavior already. questionable towards the current secretary-general,” noted the observer.