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CARICOM to meet candidates for Commonwealth Secretary-General as Jamaica defends nomination

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Posted: Thursday, April 7, 2022. 10:15 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Caribbean is to get a second term at the head of the Commonwealth, but a division has developed between rival candidates.

A statement from the caucus of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community on Wednesday announced that a sub-committee of heads from The Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, St Vincent, and the Grenadines, and Jamaica will meet with the two candidates, Baroness Patricia Scotland, QC, originally from Dominica, and Jamaican Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson-Smith.

The election will take place during the upcoming June 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda, and the Community boasts that both women are “eminently qualified candidates.”

But why a second nominee? Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders at their inter-sessional summit here in Belize last month had expressed their overwhelming support for the re-election of Baroness Patricia Scotland, first elected in 2015.

But according to Nation News (Barbados) via the Caribbean Media Corporation, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told his parliament on Tuesday that towards the latter part of the initial term of the current secretary-general, several countries, including Jamaica, were approached regarding the possibility of nominating a candidate for the post.

Holness said he had hoped to resolve the issue by dialogue, but the impetus persists, with Kenya nominating then withdrawing a candidate and Tuvalu launching a candidacy, with, he warned others potentially to come.

Nominating Johnson-Smith was in consideration of the state of affairs and future of the Commonwealth, “in conjunction with the incredibly strong encouragement and support to put forward a candidate” – one he believes has the achievements and ability to lead. Now, he must consult with Caribbean colleagues on their understanding of their thinking about the leadership of the organization, as well as their views on Johnson-Smith’s possible candidature.

Holness told Parliament that while his regional colleagues will meet on Wednesday to discuss the issue, they are also aware that there has never been a unanimous position of support for Baroness Scotland and that some member states had previously raised the question of whether an alternative Caribbean candidate should be identified.

“It is never Jamaica’s intention to seek to divide our CARICOM family,” Holness said, adding that the established processes for dialogue and communication will be the only channels that Jamaica will employ in these matters.

 

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