ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC) — Dominica is urging Caricom members to use their upcoming summit as an opportunity to strengthen their relationship with each other, following the Commonwealth secretary general campaign where two regional countries vied for the position.
Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith lost to the incumbent Dominican-born Baroness Patricia Scotland with a 27-24 margin during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that ended in Rwanda over the last weekend.
“Next week, Caricom heads meet in Suriname for a heads of government meeting and we think it is a good opportunity to reconcile and to move on from the battles of last week at CHOGM, Rwanda,” said Dominica’s Foreign Affairs Minister Kenneth Darroux.
He added that while it was unfortunate that two Caricom countries had put up candidates for the position, he is hoping that everyone will move on.
“So, essentially, what could and should have been a simple procedural matter ended up being a tense bare-knuckle fist fight among two Caricom nations, one fighting for principle, respect for morals, the other for God only knows what.”
He continued: “But we kept our message simple and on point… we were requesting just two years to allow the incumbent to continue the wonderful work that she started and then to pass on the baton to whichever candidate from the region that was next in line from the African continent.”
Darroux said that while “the dust is still settling on this extraordinary and unprecedented incident, we are also aware that every battle, especially fiercely fought ones would result in wounds of varying degrees, but we sincerely hope that these wounds would be licked to allow quicker healing and that good sportsmanship prevails as we work towards being a united region”.
Following her defeat, Johnson-Smith in a message said “God wasn’t ready for me to leave Jamaica yet. I continue to serve, and of course, sincere congratulations to Baroness Scotland”.
In response, Scotland said, “thank you for your gracious congratulations and I am looking forward to working with you closely in the years to come. I am sure you will achieve great things by God’s grace”.
Last weekend, the main opposition in Jamaica, the People’s National Party (PNP), accused the Jamaican government of wanting to divide the regional integration grouping.
“The government decided to divide Caricon to push up a candidate for Jamaica to contest the Caribbean candidate… How strange,” PNP leader Mark Golding said, adding that Scotland is a Caribbean representative who did not complete the conventional two terms and who was supported in 2015 by the then ruling PNP government.
But Prime Minister Andrew Holness, while congratulating Scotland on her re-election as secretary general of the 54-member Commonwealth, extended his “heartfelt congratulations and commendations” to his Cabinet minister, saying she ran “a distinguished and exemplary campaign.
“Jamaica remains deeply proud of Minister Johnson Smith and we are happy to have put forward such a strong, credible and competent candidate,” Holness said, adding that her candidature “won her the respect and admiration of many countries within our Commonwealth family and brought prominence to Jamaica and our ability to contest within such a large international institution”.