The failure of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders to reach consensus on a candidate for the post of Commonwealth Secretary General should not be regarded as a weakness on the part of the regional grouping, political scientist Tennyson Joseph has said.
With just over a week before the start of this year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in Malta, regional leaders have still not agreed on who should be the Caribbean’s representative to contest the elections for the top post of the organization.
Barbados TODAY understands that the majority of CARICOM states have approved of Antigua’s nominee, former diplomat Sir Ronald Sanders. However, Dominica’s choice, Baroness Patricia Scotland only has the backing of Dominica and Barbados. A third candidate from the region, Trinidad’s former planning minister Bhoe Tewarie, has since withdrawn and the twin-island republic’s Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley, has endorsed Sir Ronald for the post.
Scotland’s critics argue that she does not represent the region’s interest, even though she was born in Dominica, her family migrated to the UK when she was a young child. She pursued her career in the UK and went on to become the country’s first female attorney general.
“I’m hearing the talk from Antigua and so forth that Caribbean countries must hurry up and agree on one of them.Let’s put it this way. I think we also have to give the leaders in certain situations, the right not to agree with someone. So there could be reasons why some Caribbean leaders feel that they can’t agree to a particular one. And in that context I cannot say that it is necessarily a weakness that they have not agreed,” Joseph told Barbados TODAY.
“It’s like I’m trying to impose somebody on you on the basis of some supposed uniformity of action. Of course uniformity of action is a nice principle when there are no issues to be concerned about, but if for example, as a leader of a country, you have reason to be concerned, then nobody can impose on you the argument that, ‘we all agree because we are all from CARICOM, let’s agree on one’,” he added.
The Commonwealth meeting will take place from November 27 to 29, during which a successor to the incumbent, Kamalesh Sharma, will be chosen.
The last Caribbean national to hold the post was Sir Shridath Ramphal, who served from 1975 to 1990.
Two African nominees have been put forward – Botswana has nominated the former deputy secretary general Mmasekgoa Masire Mwambawho, while Tanzania has selected its foreign minister Bernard Membe for the post.
Earlier this month media reports from Australia indicated that Canberra is prepared to present a compromise candidate if the Caribbean and African regions do not reach a clear consensus.