New Commonwealth Sec-Gen to be determined this week

Prime Minister Gaston Browne and current Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Patricia Scotland
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A meeting to determine the next Secretary-General of the Commonwealth is set to take place this Friday.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne is currently in Kigali, Rwanda, for the Commonwealth heads of government meeting which kicked off yesterday and runs until Saturday.

He will attend a closed executive session on Friday in which an election will be held to select the body’s next leader. The candidacy has caused friction among Caribbean nations with some – including Antigua and Barbuda – backing incumbent Dominica-born Baroness Patricia Scotland and other nations in the region showing support for Jamaica’s Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson-Smith.

The Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has also put forward Sir Iakoba Taeia Italeli, a former governor general, as a candidate.

PM Browne is leading a high-level delegation for this week’s talks which have been delayed since June 2020 due to the pandemic. Accompanying him are Foreign Affairs Minister Chet Greene, Housing Minister Maria Bird-Browne, High Commissioner to the UK Karen-Mae Hill, and Ideka Dowe, political and trade attaché at the High Commission.

 The theme for this year’s heads of government meeting is ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’. It is focussing on key priority areas which reflect the global challenges to which the Commonwealth must adequately respond. These are fairness, prosperity, security and sustainability.

 Leaders from the Commonwealth’s 54 countries are set to attend, to reaffirm their common values and agree actions and policies to improve the lives of their citizens.

PM Browne is due to speak on two panels that will focus on climate change and sustainable economic development. On Wednesday, he will join a fireside chat during the Commonwealth business forum with Prime Minister Phillip Davis of the Bahamas and President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the Maldives, to be moderated by Lord Marland, Chair of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council.

And on Thursday, Browne will speak at a high-level panel discussion along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, Prime Minister Lee-Hsein Loong of Singapore, Deputy Prime Minister Donald Marles of Australia, and the Honourable Alok Sharma, the COP26 President.        

On the margins of the events, Browne and Greene will meet the leaders of several Commonwealth countries to strengthen bilateral ties and deepen cooperation. They include Cyprus, Nigeria, Kenya, Malta, Rwanda, Ghana, Canada and the UK.

Greene will also represent Antigua and Barbuda at the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting and the Commonwealth Ministerial Meeting for Small States.

 Maria Browne will attend an important side event on violence against women and girls, as well as lay a wreath at the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

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