TIMES.KY

Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Saturday, Feb 04, 2023

Commonwealth rift in Caribbean as re-election of Lady Scotland challenged

Commonwealth rift in Caribbean as re-election of Lady Scotland challenged

Jamaican minister’s entry to race for secretary general called ‘monumental error’ by Antigua
Patricia Scotland’s hopes of being re-elected Commonwealth secretary general are under threat, after Jamaica’s foreign minister, Kamina Johnson-Smith, announced that she was challenging Scotland for the post.

The decision has sparked controversy in the Caribbean, which had previously met to back Scotland’s bid for a second term. The Antiguan prime minister, Gaston Browne, has described Jamaica’s decision to break ranks as a “monumental error”.

“Jamaica was party to a recent Caribbean Community (Caricom) consensus endorsing the re-election of Baroness Scotland,” he said.

“I think Jamaica’s proposed candidature for Commonwealth secretary general is a monumental error, which could only serve to divide the Caribbean.”

He said the Dominican-born Scotland was being hounded out of office by a group that “have now skilfully engineered a plan to divide Caricom and to stain the performance of the region”.

He said that Jamaica’s tactics might only serve “as a gateway for a non-Caricom secretary general to succeed”.

In a bid to heal the rift, it has now been agreed that a Caricom sub-group will interview the two candidates in a bid to reach a consensus, according to St Vincent and the Grenadines prime minister, Ralph Gonsalves. The sub-group consists of the Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Jamaica.

It has been the convention that a secretary general is not contested if he or she seeks a second four-year term.

The 15-member Caricom had given overwhelming support for Scotland when they met in Belize in March, but that phrasing may have disguised the objections of a minority. Either way, the Jamaican decision on 1 April to announce Johnson-Smith’s candidacy caught most observers by surprise.

One former Jamaican foreign minister, Delano Franklyn, noted his country’s surprise move came after the visit to Jamaica by Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, and that visit may have been used as a backchannel to lobby the Jamaican government.

He said: “As chairman of the Commonwealth, prime minister Boris Johnson is doing everything to ensure that he has a secretary general of the Commonwealth who will fall in line with the thinking of British conservative politics.”

The UK, however, insists it is staying neutral, but supporters of Scotland believe Foreign Office officials have been manoeuvring for years to remove her on the basis it believed she has awarded contracts improperly and proved a poor administrator.

A previous potential challenger, Monica Juma, the Kenyan energy minister and a former diplomat, had announced in August 2021 that she was to stand against Scotland, received Britain’s endorsement and started campaigning. However, she then mysteriously pulled out, leaving Scotland’s opponents without a challenger.

Juma had been endorsed for the top job by President Uhuru Kenyatta last year, who called her “an exemplar of what we in the Commonwealth hold”. The 19 African members of the Commonwealth had only recently, through the African Union, endorsed Juma’s bid, but she clearly could not gain traction in the Caribbean.

In a brochure she released in September, Juma said she wanted to change the perception of the Commonwealth as an organisation of the past. It appears Juma was not receiving sufficient support across the 54-member Commonwealth and it was agreed that she stand down to find a candidate more likely to defeat Scotland.

The Commonwealth summit is supposed to reach a decision by consensus and the royal family will not want an unedifying row at what may be one of the Queen’s last summits. Judging by her recent public appearances, she is unlikely to attend in person.

Jamaica’s decision to put up a candidate has its ironies since the country had previously hinted that it was considering quitting the Commonwealth or removing the Queen as head of state. However, its prime minister, Andrew Holness, in announcing Johnson-Smith’s candidacy, praised her qualifications for the post of secretary general, including her high moral character, diplomatic and political acumen, proven competence and commitment to the work of the Commonwealth.

“She will bring a wealth of experience to the position and is committed to international public service,” he said.

Johnson-Smith, foreign minister since 2020 and a former barrister, said on Twitter: “It would be an absolute privilege to serve this great family of nations.”

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda was due in Jamaica this week, where the post of secretary general is bound to be discussed. The delayed Commonwealth heads of government meeting was initially due to be held in 2020, but that has twice been postponed due to Covid, meaning Scotland’s term has already been extended.

Scotland, a former Labour frontbench politician and member of the House of Lords, has been dogged by stories in the UK accusing her of a misuse of funds, including an internal auditor’s report that suggested normal procedures had not been followed in the award of a management consultancy contract to a fellow Labour peer. She has always denied any wrongdoing.
Newsletter

Related Articles

TIMES.KY
Close
0:00
0:00
Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
If a country is denied the right to independence by another, it is not in a union. It is in a dictatorship.
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Ronaldo's new contract...
Prince William's godmother resigns honorary royal role after exposing her/their racism
British PM Rishi Sunak pledges further action on strikes to 'protect lives'
×