No regional agreement Commonwealth candidate
Regional leaders ended their annual summit on the weekend with no consensus on a Caribbean candidate for the post of Commonwealth Secretary General.
Two nominees were up for consideration – the former UK Attorney General, Dominican-born Baroness Patricia Scotland, who is Dominica’s candidate, and Antigua and Barbuda’s choice, former diplomat Sir Ronald Sanders. A third nominee, Trinidad and Tobago government minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie, has since withdrawn.
CARICOM chairman, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, told reporters at the end of the summit they “didn’t even get to the issue” because the Venezuela-Guyana border dispute dominated discussions.
However, he said it was decided that the matter would now be put before the Bureau of Caribbean Heads, which Stuart chairs.
To date, the only Caribbean national to hold the post of Commonwealth Secretary General was Sir Shridath Ramphal, who served three terms from 1975 to 1990.
“Now if the last time the Caribbean’s turn came around was in the 1970s, really what we are being called upon to do now is to make a decision that will have implications for the next 40 years and therefore that decision cannot be made lightly,” Stuart said.
“But at the same time we have to recognize that even as we speak, time is passing by. Therefore we have to accord some urgency to it.
“Now in an ideal world we should not have been in that situation, but we are in it and if you are in a hole, the sensible thing to do is to stop digging. And that is what we’re doing, we’re going to try to get this matter resolved as quickly as possible, because it has implications for what other regions of the world might want to do if we continue to appear as though we’re hesitating and fumbling over this issue.”
The successor to the current Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma, will be chosen at the Heads of Government conference of the 53-member grouping in Malta in November.