What is the motive behind this challenge?
Kamina Johnson Smith 9Photo: Joseph Wellington)

Dear Editor,

It is not surprising that UK’s controversial Prime Minister Boris Johnson endorsed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith to unseat the incumbent secretary general of the Commonwealth Baroness Patricia Scotland.

Johnson Smith was asked if she was the UK’s proxy candidate during a recent British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) interview and, of course, she denied this.

Johnson is leader of the UK’s Conservative Party and is literally hanging on to power by a thread. He has been at odds with the liberal Scotland, current secretary general of the Commonwealth, who is Dominican born, lives in the UK, and affiliated with UK Opposition Labour Party.

Johnson has reportedly been unable to manipulate Scotland to push a more conservative agenda in the Commonwealth. Johnson’s popularity is at an all-time low in the UK, to the extent that he was publicly booed recently upon arrival with his wife for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee thanksgiving church service. His leadership has been filled with controversies, contradictions, lack of good judgement, and questionable ethics. He also serves as chair-in-office of the Commonwealth of Nations; he is part of the leadership.

The UK is also one of the big funders of the organisation. Given Johnson’s controversies, I don’t think anyone would want to be his proxy or chosen one at this time.

Scotland has been accused of financial mismanagement and not following protocols with contract awards. She has denied the allegations and has worked with auditors over the years to improve procedures and controls and governance. In all fairness, some of the audit findings preceded Scotland’s term in office.

Of course, Jamaica has the right to nominate a candidate, but these appointments have been cyclical, with regions rotating their turn for election. Johnson Smith is seeking to disrupt the cycle, paving the way to be a pawn under Boris Johnson in the Commonwealth of Nations.

Johnson Smith’s candidacy was also announced late, three months prior to the elections in Rwanda. It was announced shortly after UK diplomats visited Jamaica with the royals in March. Is there a connection? And why were two high-profile Commonwealth leaders, the presidents of Rwanda and India, hosted in Jamaica on official visits soon after Johnson Smith’s candidacy was announced?

Why is Johnson Smith’s campaign financing from public funds a big secret? Did the UK contribute to the campaign directly or indirectly?

Why did Jamaica support the unified position of Caricom to endorse Scotland to complete the two years left in her term, then break away at the last minute?

Isn’t it ironic that Jamaica is “moving on” to become a republic, yet eagerly seeks to join the leadership of the Commonwealth comprised of mostly former British colonies based in UK and headed by The Queen?

By the end of June we will know the outcome of the election. A win for Johnson Smith would be great, but at what cost to Jamaica? Relations have been tarnished in Caricom.

With 54 members voting, of which over 50 per cent are from Africa and the West Indies, the person elected must secure the majority from this bloc since Africa may not want to delay their cycle to be elected to the office next. With a third candidate from Tuvalu in the South Pacific, a former governor general, entering the race late, the votes will be split even further.

This is what happens when you rock the boat with disruption, you are bound to have chaos.

If Scotland is able to retain the confidence of the majority, the question must be asked, was a challenge really necessary and was it worth it? Jamaica should be the first to answer.

P Chin


Baroness Patricia Scotland

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