The Government of Jamaica is dismissing claims by Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Patricia Scotland, that there’s no vacancy for Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith to fill.
The Baroness has also called on her fellow CARICOM national to withdraw her bid and allow her to complete what she sees as the remaining two years of her eight year term.
However, in a release last evening the government made it clear that Mrs. Johnson Smith’s bid for the post is within established bounds and will not be withdrawn.
Wayne Walker tells us more.
The Government of Jamaica continues to stand firm behind Kamina Johnson-Smith and her bid for Commonwealth Secretary General.
However, the incumbent, Baroness Patricia Scotland insists there’s no vacancy to fill.
In a recent interview, the Dominica-born Scotland said she would be pleased if Senator Johnson-Smith withdrew.
The Baroness believes she should be allowed to complete the remaining two years of her term with the African region expected to put forward its own candidate in 2024.
However, the Government of Jamaica is challenging that assertion.
In a statement last evening, it says Mrs. Johnson Smith’s candidature was announced in a context where the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting initially scheduled for June 2020 was postponed, due to the pandemic.
It says Baroness Scotland was ultimately offered and accepted an extension of her existing contract, until such time as the next meeting could be convened.
This, the Government says, does not constitute appointment for a second term, which was already rejected.
It’s understood that several member states have questioned Baroness Scotland’s management of the portfolio.
The statement also notes that the nation’s of Kenya and Tuvalu announced candidatures for the post signalling the pursuit of change by other regions.
But, the Jamaican Government notes in the process of wide engagement across the Commonwealth, several countries have asked about the existence of two CARICOM candidates.
It answered these concerns by pointing out that the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas while aspiring towards co-ordination of foreign policy does not mandate harmonization.
The Holness Administration says Jamaica’s decision was made not only within the latitude of the treaty but more importantly, by virtue of its conviction that the leadership being offered would be in the interest of the Commonwealth.
It’s understood that the government’s statement follows discussions among CARICOM leaders via virtual forum yesterday.
It’s also understood that the candidatures of Baroness Scotland and Kamina Johnson Smith was the central topic.
We await word as to the final outcome of those deliberations.
However, as it stands with neither candidate backing down, ultimately the question of who will be Secretary General of the Commonwealth will be settled in the Rwandan Capital of Kigali in June and not a moment before.