The Baroness beats Sir Ron

Newly elected Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Patricia Scotland (centre) is flanked by outgoing Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma (left), and Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. (Photo courtesy Commonwealth Secretariat)

Following a lengthy campaign trail, and numerous region-wide calls for her to drop out of the race, Baroness Patricia Scotland has emerged victorious in her quest to become the 6th Commonwealth Secretary General.

The Dominican candidate and a former UK attorney general came out ahead of Antigua & Barbuda’s cnominee, Sir Ron Sanders, and Botswana’s Mmasekogoa Masire-Mwamba.

Going into the vote, both regional governments were confident that their candidate would have won.

Antigua & Barbuda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Charles “Max” Fernandez expressed such an assurance to OBSERVER media on Monday; the same sort of confidence Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit expressed to Dominica’s DBS Radio the same day.

After Friday’s three rounds of voting in Malta, however, only one country’s assertion came to pass.

Speaking with OBSERVER media from Malta after the vote, Minister Fernandez recapped the events.

“After the first round, Sir Ron received the least votes. For the second round, Antigua & Barbuda put its support behind Baroness Scotland because we felt we’d be supporting the candidate from another Caribbean country,” Fernandez said.

Antigua’s last-minute support for Baroness Scotland brought an end to a protracted saga of division, recently escalating when an agreement could not be reached amongst regional governments on a single candidate; although Caricom seemed to favour Sir Ron.

Fernandez’s analysis of ‘what went wrong’ for Sir Ron: “We went up against Africa on one hand, and the other (voting) bloc of the Europeans. As you know, Baroness Scotland is a member of the English Parliament. They openly lobbied very heavily for her.

“Also the (Australians) lobbied openly with the Pacific countries. So, in effect, we were marginalised – to say the least — and had a very, very tough time going forward,” he added.

Fernandez said the open European intervention on Baroness Scotland’s behalf “blindsided” the Antiguan contingent.

Just before the vote, England’s Daily Telegraph printed an article titled, “Leading candidate to be Commonwealth secretary general alleged to have received $1.4m in fraud against Antiguan government,” bringing back to the surface the IHI case and the Lindquist Report.

It is unclear whether the article had any effect on the voting.

 

(More in today’s Daily Observer)

BACKGROUND

Confirmation has come that Baroness Scotland has been voted as the new Secretary-General of the Commonwealth after several rounds.

Word has reached the Observer newsroom that close voting led to at least three rounds.

“We withdrew Sir Ron after the first round of voting and threw our support behind Scotland as the compromise candidate,” Prime Minister Gaston told Observer media just after the results were tallied.

More to come later…

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