By Shermain Bique-Charles
Three years after he accused her of bringing shame on the Commonwealth, Prime Minister Gaston Browne has announced that his government will support Baroness Scotland’s bid to seek a second term as Secretary General of the Commonwealth.
In what can be described as a complete 180, Browne told reporters in Barbados following the CARICOM heads of government meeting that he is standing with his counterparts in supporting Scotland and was sure that she will likely maintain her position.
“With the support of all of CARICOM, and I believe that we had unanimity in the decision to support her, and with the African states that we understand are also supporting her along with a number of states in Asia, we are pretty sure that she will have the majority support when we deal with this issue in Kigali in June of this year,” he said.
But back in November 2016, Browne slammed Scotland, saying that she was an “embarrassment for the Caribbean”.
At the time he told Observer that “instead of bringing benefits to the Caribbean she brought shame”, adding that the election of a “real” Caribbean person “of great competence and experience was missed because of insularity, a culture of non-cooperation and hate of our own”.
Browne’s then choice for Secretary General of Commonwealth was current Ambassador to the US Sir Ronald Sanders.
During a recent meeting in St John’s, the Baroness assured Browne that she will continue to work assiduously in the interests of the 54 countries of the Commonwealth.
She said that she has been honored to serve the Commonwealth and is looking forward to continuing the work she started almost four years ago.
The questions about Scotland’s future leadership of the Commonwealth came after she was criticised by internal auditors last November for awarding a lucrative consultancy contract to a company run by her friend.
The audit committee report also found that the Secretariat had no register of either tender waivers or conflicts of interest and was unable to provide an explanation.
That committee also identified 50 occasions between July 2015 and June 2018 when the usual procurement tenders had been waived by the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Baroness Scotland has always denied any wrongdoing. Her four-year term as Secretary General comes to an end next month.
The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be backing moves to persuade Amina Mohamed, a 58-year-old Kenyan politician, to challenge Baroness Scotland if she refuses to stand down.