The race is definitely on to choose the next Secretary General of the 53-nation Commonwealth based in London.
Ahead of this week’s Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders’ summit in Barbados, which is to decide on a regional candidate for the post, the government of Antigua and Barbuda has released a 12-page brochure promoting its candidate, former diplomat Sir Ronald Sanders.
“The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has nominated Sir Ronald Sanders as the next Secretary-General of the Commonwealth and is pleased to commend him to the association of Commonwealth Nations,” says Antigua and Barbuda’s prime minister Gaston Browne, in the introduction to the brochure.
He goes on to describe Guyana-born Sir Ron, who was previously said to have the backing of the Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, as “a diplomat and a scholar, a man of vision and of practicality, a man of ideals and of ideas – and a man of proven commitment to the Commonwealth”.
The document details Sir Ron’s record of service to the Commonwealth over the past three decades, including his work as special adviser on small states, and as a member and the Rapporteur of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group (EPG), which was commissioned by Heads of Government to report on reform of the Commonwealth between 2010 and 2011.
“Given his wealth of experience and knowledge, he is distinctively well-suited to take on the role as an effective Secretary-General in a time of change,” the document adds.
However, Baroness Patricia Scotland, the other frontrunner who has the support of Barbados and her native Dominica, maintains she is the best choice for job.
The former U.K. Cabinet minister was accompanied by former CARICOM Deputy Secretary General, Barbadian Lolita Applewhaite, on a visit to St Kitts and Nevis last week, where she met with prime minister Dr Timothy Harris as well other key government and Opposition officials.
“Don’t judge me by what I say, but what I have done,” she was quoted in another section of the press here as saying on Sunday.
“It is not about talking in academic terms about what should be done. I have done it,” added Baroness Scotland, who was Britain’s first female attorney general.
“Whether it is reforming the services and delivering on the [UK] Foreign office, whether it is changing and delivering civil justice change when I was deputy to the Lord Chancellor and radically changing the process of criminal justice implementation and reducing domestic violence by 64 per cent and saving the economic process by 7.1 billion [pounds sterling] a year or creating. I don’t talk, I do act,” she said.
The other regional contender for the Commonwealth S.G post, which is being vacated by Kamalesh Sharma of India, is Trinidadian scholar Dr Bhoendradatt Tewari, who has been put up by the twin island republic.
The region’s candidate will come up against Botswana’s Mimasekgoa Masire-Mwamba. The next S.G. of the Commonwealth will be chosen at the grouping’s next Heads of Government Summit in Malta in November.