By Carlena Knight
The Caribbean Community (Caricom) has revealed plans to meet with the region’s two prospective candidates for Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
A date and time has not yet been announced but, according to a Caricom release, the incumbent Baroness Patricia Scotland QC and Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson-Smith will meet with a sub-committee comprising a handful of Caricom members.
Antigua and Barbuda is not included in the sub-committee, which will have representatives from the Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Jamaica.
It is hoped that following that meeting, Caricom will decide on a single nominee.
Caricom reaffirmed the obligation of member states to coordinate foreign policy as outlined in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
There has been some controversy surrounding this nomination period as initially the consensus from Caricom was that it would throw its support behind Dominican-born Scotland. But that was quickly dismantled when Jamaica announced last week it was nominating Johnson-Smith for the position.
Jamaica’s move sparked controversy in several Caricom countries including Antigua and Barbuda, with Prime Minister Gaston Browne labelling it a “monumental error”.
Browne went on to say it risked dividing the regional body which had given its overwhelming support for Scotland to get a second term.
But Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Jamaica’s Parliament on Tuesday that their candidate was an “alternative in response to persisting issues”.
He said Jamaica was approached to enter the race.
Scotland, whose extended first term will end in June, has been mired in controversy over her governance of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
In 2020 she was criticised by internal auditors for awarding a lucrative consultancy contract to a company run by a personal friend. Scotland was accused of “circumventing” the usual competitive tendering rules, but her lawyers insisted she complied with procurement procedures.
She is the second person from the Caribbean to hold the prestigious position and the first woman.
A decision on the appointment of a Secretary-General is to be made during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to take place from June 20 to 25 this year in Kigali, Rwanda. Kenya is also said to be putting forward a candidate.