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CARICOM had no candidate for Commonwealth SG, says PM Briceno

During the zoom interview with PM Briceno today, the media asked him about the recently held race for Commonwealth Secretary-General. Briceno said that CARICOM did not field a candidate. As we told you, the incumbent, Baroness Patricia Scotland of Dominica narrowly defeated the Jamaican foreign minister, Kamina Johnson-Smith in the vote held last week in Kigali, Rwanda. Johnson-Smith, however, received endorsements from at least seven nations, including Belize, Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada, India and the UK. When asked about whether his endorsement of Minister Johnson-Smith and her subsequent loss show weakness on his part as a regional leader, PM Briceno said this was not an indictment on him.

John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “Let me make something very clear. CARICOM did not have a candidate so there’s in no way. What happened was in March. There’s only one candidate and the Baroness who is, was just born in Dominica. She did not grow up in Dominica and CARICOM decided that we would support her because she at least was born. Johnson Smith also felt that she could serve in the position of Secretary General for CARICOM, sorry, for the Commonwealth. What we did is that we attempted to have meetings with both persons. We wanted both of them to meet Heads and for a face to face meeting. That was impossible to be able to organise because both of them were busy campaigning so Cabinet, sorry CARICOM then decided that each country can support who they believe they may wish to support. What I did in the plenary for that meeting is that I questioned the process and mentioned in my intervention that it is the turn of the Caribbean to continue to have a Secretary General for Commonwealth and then it was then understood that then that there had to be another election to finish this second term. Because, of the pandemic, Bernice Johnshon who is the Chairman for the Commonwealth at that time and wrote a letter stating that he could not get consensus so it was decided that the Baroness would stay there until we could have another meeting of Heads to elect a new, to decide whether she would stay on or we would elect a new candidate. That was decided then since there was not an election in 2020 that now we have another election to confirm whether we want the baroness to finish her last two years or should we get another person to come on.  It was. It seems that it was the con, well, not even a consensus but a slight majority of the members felt that since the Baronnes has already done two years, it’s best for her to finish the next two years because after that in two years from now, it is going to be know, the opportunity is going to be Given to a candidate from Africa. 

Scotland will remain as the Commonwealth Sec. Gen. for another two years and then Africa is next in the leadership rotation.