The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has announced that each country will cast separate votes in the race for a new Commonwealth Secretary-General, as members call for a leadership shake-up.
The news comes as the Commonwealth members will appoint a new Secretary-General during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) from 20 to 26 June in Kigali, Rwanda.
Current Secretary-General The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC is Dominican-born and will run again for the role.
Jamaica has announced a new runner up for the position, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith. Her candidacy has been backed by the government’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness. Along with Trinidad and Tobago’s endorsement, Johnson Smith has the public backing of five members of the Commonwealth – including the United Kingdom.
Members of the CARICOM issued a statement early in May indicating they were divided in their support for the two Caribbean candidates, dismissing expectations for a unanimous vote.
Despite many remain confident about the re-election of the current Secretary-General, members of CARICOM have expressed concerns over her second mandate.
Scotland was elected in Malta back in 2015 and she is the first woman to hold the post.
Trinidad and Tobago have since joined Jamaica in their support for Johnson Smith, as disclosed by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley during a press briefing on 22 May. During the briefing, PM Rowley expressed his dissent towards previous elections’ results and made it clear that Trinidad had not supported Scotland’s initial bid in 2015.
“It was our turn to be afforded the chairmanship, but when that came about in the Malta meeting, CARICOM supported an individual who, while being Caribbean by birth, in fact had lived all her useful life in the United Kingdom; had risen to the level of attorney-general of the United Kingdom and had, in fact, become a Baroness in the British parliament,” he said.
“It was always the position of Trinidad and Tobago that such a person was not really a representative of CARICOM to represent us when it was our turn to lead.”
Scotland’s term has been met with criticism after she was accused by internal auditors for awarding a lucrative consultancy contract to a company run by a friend. The Secretary-General has denied all allegations against her.
Kenya and Tuvalu have both announced candidatures for the post; however, Kenya’s submission has since withdrawn their application.