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Avellon Williams 

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The Caribbean Community (Caricom) will vote for “a candidate of their choice” in Rwanda when leaders of the Commonwealth meet next month to select the next Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Caricom Chairman John Briceno announced on Tuesday.

Jamaica appears to have scuttled any attempt by the 15-member Caricom grouping to have a consensus candidate for the position, with Kingston defending its nomination of its Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, a.

Current Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland (left) and Kamina Johnson-Smith (right)

During the month of April, the Caribbean leaders had issued a statement indicating that they were still divided in their support for the two candidates, including the incumbent Baroness Patricia Scotland, for the position, and that they would instead establish a subcommittee to investigate the matter further.

A date for when the regional sub-committee of leaders will meet with the two Caribbean candidates has not been announced by Caricom.

Chairman John Briceno/ Image, CC/

In 2015, Scotland was elected to the post at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta, and she will be reelected during the June 20-25 Commonwealth summit.

Having been born in Dominica, Scotland is the second woman in the post and the first from the Caribbean.

Briceno, who is also the Prime Minister of Belize, said in his statement that the election of the Commonwealth Secretary-General would take place during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, on 20-25 June.

“The conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community maintains that it is still the turn of the Caribbean to provide a candidate for the position.”

“In that regard, two candidates from the Caribbean Community have been nominated for the post… (and) member states of the Community will vote for the candidate of their choice,” Briceno said.

PM Roosevelt Skerrit /Image, Twitter/

Roosevelt Skerrit, Dominica’s Prime Minister, said last month that he remains “very confident” Scotland would be re-elected, “and at the end of the day, countries have to vote, and we know how elections work”.

“We are very confident that she can go through but we would not want to have any divisive, contentious elections. If you go into this divisive approach whoever becomes victorious will have a difficulty in properly functioning in that office,” Skerrit said, adding “we are not at war with Jamaica, we are not at odds with Jamaica”.

However, Jamaica said it is necessary to point out that the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement “aspires to co-ordinate foreign policy, including positions in external forums, as far as practicable.”

“It does not mandate harmonisation and acknowledges, therefore, the sovereign decisions of member states. Jamaica’s decision was made not only within the latitude in the Caricom treaty but more importantly, by virtue of its conviction that the leadership being offered would be in the interest of the Commonwealth”.

Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said that Johnson Smith’s entry was “a monumental error”.

PM Gaston Browne /Image LN/

“Those who seek to divide and rule are encouraging Jamaica to present a candidate in opposition to the current Secretary-General, who is serving on a Caricom rotation,” Browne said.

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Avellon Williams

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