By Shermain Bique-Charles
Antigua and Barbuda other CARICOM member states have been told that they will each have to vote separately for a candidate of their choice when Commonwealth leaders meet in Rwanda next month. This, as CARICOM appears to be divided over the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General
The latest announcement was made on Tuesday by CARICOM Chairman John Briceno.
After criticism from Prime Minister Gaston Browne and other leaders about Jamaica’s decision to field a candidate, Kingston remained adamant that it would not pull its nominee – Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Kamina Johnson Smith – from the race
Johnson-Smith is challenging Baroness Patricia Scotland, who had initially received the CARICOM backing.
Briceno said in his brief statement that CARICOM maintains that it is still the turn of the Caribbean to provide a candidate for the position.
He said two candidates from the Caribbean Community have been nominated for the post and member states of the Community will vote for the candidate of their choice.
Last month, Prime Minister Gaston Browne described the move by Jamaica as a monumental error which could only serve to divide the Caribbean”.
While the Jamaican government has consistently touted the qualifications of Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, the incumbent, Dominica-born Baroness Scotland made it clear that Johnson should not seek to oppose her.
“I would be incredibly pleased, as you can imagine, if Senator Kamina Johnson thought again and felt maybe this wasn’t the appropriate time to challenge a fellow Commonwealth/Caribbean for this post. I have done six years of my eight-year term,” Scotland said in an interview with State TV.
Scotland, who has been hit with accusations of non-transparency, is also mounting a defense against allegations of impropriety in the awarding of a contract to a company owned by a personal friend, a move that has cast a cloud over her tenure.
In 2009, during her stint as Britain’s attorney general, she was criticised for hiding an illegal immigrant worker, and in 2016, for making expensive renovations to her residence.