Jan 31, 2023

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Patricia Scotland retains Commonwealth Secretary-General seat in rare contest

Baroness Patricia Scotland will remain Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat for the next four years after defeating Jamaica’s Foreign and Trade Secretary Kamina Johnson.

Ms Scotland won by 27 votes and Ms Johnson received 24, shared Sources The EastAfrican.

However, the competition has created a divide between members of the Commonwealth, particularly in Africa, the Caribbean, and the more affluent members of the bloc.

Part of the split stems from a highly visible and contentious battle for the post, largely engineered by the current Commonwealth leader – Britain – who publicly supported Ms Johnson.

The Support for Ms Johnson Johnson was reportedly criticized a month ago by Britain’s shadow Foreign Secretary, David Lammy.

“The leader of the Commonwealth wants neutrality and confidentiality.” ety. No chair in the history of the Commonwealth has ever done so. It’s unseemly and divisive,” said Mr Lammy.

On 24 June, at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm), there was no consensus and the decision had to be taken by vote at a later closed meeting of Heads of State.

In her opening speech in Chogm, Ms Scotland made clear her intention to hand over in 2024, at the end of her official second term.

“I am determined that “When the role of Secretary-General moves to Africa in two years’ time, I will be passing the baton with a stronger and more effective Commonwealth than ever before,” she said.

In response to her speech, officials said Ms Scotland had tried to give the impression that the heads of state had already agreed on the outcome.

“The SG issue was divisive and caused a great deal of irritation among Commonwealth members. Britain has been actively trying to promote another candidate but the problem is that it is Africa’s turn to have an SG and the Jamaican candidate would not want to serve just two years,” a source said. “If they decide to proceed with the Jamaican, they will prevent an African general secretary from taking the lead, as everyone expected. This may sound like an administrative matter, but it affects how the Commonwealth is run and how countries think about it.”

Voting system

As part of the Commonwealth voting system, the Consensus prioritized, all members must agree on one candidate or one cannot be declared the winner. A Commonwealth Secretary-General can serve a maximum of two terms of four years each.

In June 2020, the UK said that a “significant and diverse number” of Heads of Government from across the Commonwealth opposed the idea of ​​a woman Scotland will be automatically re-appointed for a further four years without having to stand for re-election. The decision was given to Chogm in Kigali that year. They agreed to temporarily extend their appointment until June 27, 2022.

Analysts said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s campaign against the incumbent may have been counterproductive for the body, which often bills itself as closed.

< p> “Even in the few cases in the past where there have been challenges, they have been reticent and sought compromise and consensus in order not to create division. Collegiality is the currency of the Commonwealth: it debases it at your own peril,” a source told The EastAfrican.

On Friday, sources said about 13 African countries support Ms Scotland with six are with Mrs. Johnson.

“Britain is behaving as if it were still a colonial master – divide and conquer. Some countries are opposed to Scotland, but also to the UK’s open campaign against the incumbent,” sources said.

Ms Johnson also has “limited experience running an international organisation,” an African delegate said em> The EastAfrican.

Ms Scotland’s problems relate to allegations of financial mismanagement of the Secretariat’s resources, which she has consistently denied.

In a letter dated June 16, seen by The East African, Kevin Isaac, Chair of the Commonwealth Board of Governors – representing all member states – protested attempts by Ms Scotland to authorize the release of an audit report by Ernst and Young to the Chair delay. p>

“The Secretariat’s decision to deny the Chair access to the report is an affront to the mandate given to the Chair by the Executive Board. The Chair regrets and questions the Secretariat’s position, which shows an indifference to the oversight authority of the Board,” the letter reads.