St Kitts – Regional governments criticized over Commonwealth nominees
BASSETERRE –– Commonwealth Caribbean governments have been criticized for their apparent failure to unite behind one candidate for the post of secretary general of the Commonwealth.
Antiguan-based analyst Arvel Grant said that instead of publicly quarrelling over three candidates, the leaders should have taken a much more professional approach.
“It just started very badly from the beginning. In these modern times, you have different governments nominating their candidates publicly long before anybody has any kind of common agreement as to who it is likely to be,” Grant told WINN FM’s The Bigger Picture.
He called it extremely unfortunate “to see at the level of our heads of government that something as straightforward as the recruitment of a top diplomat” could become so lacking in order and good governance.
The three potential Caribbean candidates are Antigua’s High Commissioner to Britain Sir Ronald Sanders, Britain’s Baroness Patricia Scotland, and Trinidadian government minister Senator Bhoe Tewarie.
Sanders is being put forward by Antigua, Dominican-born Scotland by Dominica, and Bhoe Tewarie by Trinidad and Tobago.
According to the London-based Caribbean Council, Sir Ronald is the leading regional candidate with the support of seven Caribbean nations.
Scotland, Britain’s first female attorney general and a current member of the House of Lords in London, has emerged as a controversial figure, because her Caribbean credentials are being questioned.
However, while the Antigua government endorses its diplomat Sir Ronald, the opposition in St John’s says the baroness should be the Antigua choice, because her father is Antiguan.
Grant said the manner in which the matter was being handled had seen it degenerate into political wrangling.
“The process has gone out of control to the point where it now has descended to the order of partisan politicking,” he noted.
According to Grant, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government involved in the process should have assigned the recruitment to an experienced head hunting organization to avoid the “to and fro about national preferences and who is best placed because of where they were born or where they work”.
In relation to Scotland, the Caribbean Council’s David Jessop says, although well liked as a person, her candidacy is described as “tainted” by a number of influential regional political and academic figures.
Jessop says that’s because she is widely regarded as “Britain’s candidate for the role”, and damagingly there is also the view that she forfeited Caribbean trust when she supported Britain’s decision to invade Iraq.
It is also claimed that Scotland did not do enough to support the region as a British Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister.