Just as Jamaica’s Foreign Secretary Kamina Johnson-Smith last week completed her trip to Africa seeking support to become the next Commonwealth Secretary-General, her country issued a statement to defend her candidacy after the incumbent had asked them to drop out.
In a May 12 statement, the Jamaican government said the nomination was “put forward in a context where a change in leadership was clear from member states in all regions was deemed desirable”.
“Indeed, over time, two member states [Kenya and Tuvalu] announced their candidacy for the post of Secretary-General, signaling that two regions [Africa and the Pacific] were looking for changes strive Kenya’s candidacy was recently withdrawn, with the expressed hope that another candidate would come forward.”
Jamaica says it feels compelled to clarify its position as “as part of broader engagement across the Commonwealth several countries have asked about the existence of two candidates from Caribbean member countries and a new narrative about there being “no vacancy” in the office”.
Call to stop
In one In a recent interview with ABSTV, incumbent Patricia Scotland suggested that Ms Johnson-Smith should retire.
“I would be incredibly pleased if Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith would reconsider this and feel that this might not be the right time for a challenge. .. for this post. I have six years of my eight year tenure behind me. Africa expects to have the opportunity to nominate an African Secretary-General in 2024, when I complete my second term,” said Ms Scotland.
During her trip, Ms Smith met heads of state and top government officials from the Commonwealth member states, as well as Rwanda and Mozambique.
In Nairobi, Kenya’s foreign ministry chief secretary, Macharia Kamau, said the country agreed with Ms. Smith “to see a transformation in the Commonwealth”.
The Jamaican, a latecomer to the race, is the only rival to Ms Scotland, whose first term was due to end in 2020. However, the 54 member states agreed to keep them due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Johnson-Smith and Ms Scotland will meet during the Commonwealth Heads of Government (Chogm) meeting in Kigali next month voting members.
– Additional reporting by Berna Namata