Caricom warns against dividing Commonwealth over re-election of Commonwealth SGTuesday, September 28, 2021
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Caricom has warned the 54-member Commonwealth that it risks being divided over the re-election of the incumbent Secretary General, Patricia Scotland.
“Our Commonwealth family, has until now, held to the tradition of at least two terms for a Secretary General and to the principle of rotation between region,” Caricom chairman, Prime Minister Gaston Browne wrote in a September 14 letter addressed to all the Commonwealth Heads of State and Governments.
A copy of the letter was obtained by the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
The Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister said it now appears that the separate regions of Africa, Asia and the Pacific “have been or are being encouraged to present candidates in opposition to the current Secretary General”.
“This runs counter to the principle of notation which would see Africa assuming the office of Secretary General in 2024 when the Caribbean term would normally come to an end, followed in turn by the Pacific,” said Browne.
Browne reiterated the 15-member Caricom grouping's support for Scotland to be given another term in office.
He said that the issue had been discussed at a recently concluded meeting of Caricom leaders and that there had been “broad support” for Scotland, “a national of both Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda by birth”.
In his letter, the Caricom chairman said the unprecedented circumstances of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic “have conspired to delay the appropriate renewal for a second term at a regularly convened CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) and have occasioned a series of extensions to the first term of the Secretary General, from 1st April 2020”.
But Browne in his two-page letter, said that despite this uncertainty and despite the challenges of COVID and its ravages to the countries, Scotland “has continued to give her excellent service to the Commonwealth”.
He warned that if the Commonwealth is to live up to its values “which we share and hold dear, we should eschew any attempts to pit our countries and our regions against the other”.
“Only in that way can the Commonwealth continue to be a beacon in this world which is beset by turmoil,” Browne warned.
He told the Commonwealth leaders that events the 54-member grouping have faced in the past “have illustrated that our Commonwealth family cannot afford to be divided.”
“We must be united against the triple threat against the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the economic fallout which will scar all of our countries for the foreseeable future,” Browne wrote, adding “this is the time for consistency, stability and a proven track record of delivery”.
“On behalf of Caricom, I wish to request your support for Secretary General Scotland's completion of her full second term, namely to 31 March 2024,” Browne said.
Earlier this year, Kenya's President, Uhuru Keneyatta is reported to have written regional leaders seeking their support for a new candidate being proposed by Kenya.
Kenyatta had nominated his Cabinet Secretary for Defence, Monica Juma, for the post of Commonwealth Secretary General.
Scotland is also facing opposition for a second term with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is the current “chair-in-office” for the Commonwealth — indicating in 2020 that he hoped the heads of government can instead agree just to extend Scotland's contract temporarily until they meet in 2021.
The 54 heads of government had expected to decide Scotland's future at their big biennial summit — known as CHOGM — in Rwanda in June last year, but the meeting was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The new date had been set for June 21, 2021, in Rwanda but was again postponed due to the pandemic.