The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has welcomed the election of Baroness Patricia Scotland as the new Commonwealth Secretary General following an election campaign that had threatened to split the 15-member regional grouping.
Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit nominated the former United Kingdom attorney general for the post and stuck with the nomination of the Dominican-born former legislator despite calls for CARICOM to back a single candidate to replace the outgoing former Indian foreign affairs minister Kamalesh Sharma.
Her nomination for the post had divided the grouping, with some countries openly supporting Sir Ronald Sanders, the Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador to the United States, who is reported to have withdrawn from the race after failing to past the first hurdle on Friday.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne said later that St. John’s had thrown its support behind Baroness Scotland, 60, who also faced Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba of Botswanna for the top Commonwealth post.
In a congratulatory message, the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat welcomed the victory, pointing out that Baroness Scotland has created history as the first woman to head the organization.
“She is also the second Secretary-General to come from the Caribbean Community, the other being Sir Shridath Ramphal of Guyana. Baroness Scotland, born in Dominica and whose father is from Antigua and Barbuda, brings to the position an impressive record of public service.”
CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque, said the Community looks forward to working with Baroness Scotland in continuing to strengthen the unique organisation that is the Commonwealth and in building on the close co-operation between that organisation and CARICOM.
Meanwhile, St. Kitts-Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris has described the new Commonwealth Secretary General as a woman with strong attachments to the Caribbean and as one who has “a broad global view” which is needed to “lead the Commonwealth in a new era when solutions are required to critical problems”.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad Bissessar, said she has “no doubt that Baroness Scotland would maintain her pledge to put the women’s agenda firmly on the table and work with leaders, governments, local governments and other partners.
“It is most fitting for the Commonwealth to recognise the value of women in leadership roles,” she added.
Baroness Scotland takes up her position in April next year.