Commonwealth members have reappointed Patricia Scotland as Secretary-General in Kigali, defeating United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s attempt to force her out.
Dominican-born Scotland, a former British Labour attorney-general, won by 27 to 24 during the election at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda.
“It is deeply humbling to have been reappointed as Secretary-General of this great Commonwealth,” commented Secretary-General Scotland accepting her role.
“To continue to serve our family of nations is a true honour and a privilege and I will do so to the best of my ability. We will face the world’s challenge with unity and purpose.
“To seek high office is a profound act of service and I want to commend my colleagues who also sought to serve. The Commonwealth is richer for the breadth and depth of talented leaders who dedicate themselves to our family of nations.”
Scotland was facing a challenge from Kamina Johnson Smith, the Foreign Minister of Jamaica, who conceded defeat on social media channels.
Her candidacy has been backed by several members of the Commonwealth – including the United Kingdom – as 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.
Scotland’s supporters have lamented that Boris Johnson’s backing of one candidate, at a time when the UK is supposed to be the neutral, was an abuse of his position and that he had compromised the UK’s role.
Many have seen Scotland’s re-election as a blow to Boris Johnson’s influence and credibility even within the Commonwealth. The British Prime Minister has rejected the idea and insisted it was a “good day for democracy”.
“What is the Commonwealth? It is an amazing group of 54 countries that share values and in particular, the idea of democracy, and I work well with Baroness Scotland – have done for a very long time since I became foreign secretary, I think – and look forward to working well with her in the next couple of years,” said Johnson in an address where he praised Scotland’s exceptional work during the past few years.
Secretary-General Scotland first took office in 2016 with her initial term extended due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having already served six years she will now serve for a further two years to complete the balance of her period in office.
Learn more: The Commonwealth Secretariat