India declares support for Kamina
JAISHANKAR... Johnson Smith’s excellent credentials and impeccable track record can offer the right leadership to the Commonwealth at this important juncture

THERE is increasing confidence in the Andrew Holness Administration that Kamina Johnson Smith will be the next Commonwealth secretary general when the votes are counted in Rwanda at the end of June.

This follows the endorsement on Tuesday by India, which joined its fellow Commonwealth heavyweight the United Kingdom, in lining up behind Johnson Smith, the Jamaican foreign affairs and foreign trade minister.

“We are very thankful that India has come out and endorsed the candidature of Minister Johnson Smith,” minister with responsibility for information Robert Morgan told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday.

“Minister Johnson Smith continues to maintain a positive campaign about building bridges between Commonwealth countries, being a unifying force, and making the Commonwealth a better entity for all member states.

“Minister Johnson Smith’s campaign continues and the Administration fully supports her bid. As you can see many countries from various socio-economic and cultural backgrounds are supporting her unifying candidature,” added Morgan.

JOHNSON SMITH... says she looks forward to engaging in robust multilateral cooperation, including within the family of connected and committed Commonwealth nations

In a letter to Johnson Smith released on Tuesday, India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar expressed his Government’s assurance that her “excellent credentials and impeccable track record can offer the right leadership to the Commonwealth at this important juncture”.

Jaishankar also expressed the desire for collaboration to “ensure that the Commonwealth’s relevance and priorities are effectively met”.

In welcoming the endorsement, Johnson Smith stated that she shares the intent expressed by Jaishankar to strengthen the excellent coordination between the two countries on a wide range of issues of mutual interest in the multilateral fora, and affirmed that she also looks forward to “engaging in robust multilateral cooperation, including within the family of connected and committed Commonwealth nations”.

India, a founding member of the Commonwealth and its most populous member state, joins what Government sources say are at least 15 of the Commonwealth’s 54 member states which have privately, or publicly, indicated their support for Johnson Smith’s candidature ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which will be hosted by Rwanda during the week of June 20, 2022.

Johnson Smith is in a face-off with Baroness Patricia Scotland who was elected to lead the Commonwealth Secretariat on a Caribbean Community (Caricom) ticket in 2015.

On Sunday, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Keith Rowley announced his country’s support for Johnson Smith days after Caricom Chairman John Briceno indicated that the regional grouping was unable to arrive at a unified position in the race that should boil down to Johnson Smith and Baroness Scotland.

Trinidad’s announcement came days after the UK declared that it has thrown its support behind Johnson Smith.

“With a month to go until the Commonwealth comes together in Rwanda, delighted to confirm the UK will support @kaminajsmith’s campaign to be the next secretary general. She has the vast experience & support to unite our unique family of nations and seize the opportunities ahead,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted last Thursday.

BY ARTHUR HALL Editor-at-large

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