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"Disunity" in CARICOM could derail Sir Ron's chances to be Commonwealth SG

After Caribbean Community (Caricom) Heads of Government failed to agree on a single candidate to nominate for the post of Commonwealth Secretary General, at least one regional leader is warning it could cost the Region.

The post is rotated between Commonwealth regions and the Caribbean region next in line. But Grenadian Prime Minister Keith Mitchell said disunity in CARICOM may jeopardise this practice.

Antigua and Barbuda has nominated Sir Ronald Sanders, while Trinidad and Tobago has nominated Dr Bhoe Tewari. Dominica has nominated Baroness Patricia Scotland. “I think we are making a serious mistake with having three candidates and we put out their names early; we didn’t even attempt to talk to each other privately – three names! And I thought that was a bad approach and I’m not sure we will benefit from it,” said Prime Minister Mitchell.

The Grenadian Prime Minister, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Caricom Heads of Government Meeting in Barbados, gave his public backing to Antigua and Barbuda’s nominee Ronald Sanders and bemoaned the lack of unity. “I think it’s a mistake, and those who did it must know that. I certainly spoke out about it and I’m not afraid to say so, because I think it was the wrong approach, and it may result in us not getting that candidate for the post of Secretary General. We may have missed the boat,” said Mitchell.

CARICOM Chairman and Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart admitted the issue was carded for the summit but did not come up because of a packed schedule and the visit of several international delegations. He however said a group including himself, the Bahamian Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of Belize was formed to tackle the issue. “The bureau will take certain steps and make certain recommendations. This issue is a very important issue for us,” Stuart said. The Caricom Chairman said if the Caribbean misses out, it could take another 40 years before the position rotates back around to the Region.“Really, what we are being called upon to do now is to make a decision that will have implications for the next 40 years, and therefore, that decision cannot be made lightly, but at the same time, even as we speak, time is passing by therefore we have to afford some urgency to it,” said Stuart.

“In an ideal world, we should not be in this situation, but we are in it and if you are in a hole the sensible thing to do is to stop digging.” Commonwealth Heads of Government are due to elect a new Secretary General at the Heads of Government Meeting in Malta from November 27-29. Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who ahead of the meeting, accepted that it was unlikely that a unified decision would be reached, said in no case will he withdraw the nomination for Sir Ron. “Under no circumstances will we withdraw the nomination of Sir Ron Sanders because he is the fore-runner candidate. He is not trailing behind any other, he has the most pledges … he will remain in the race because he is the best prospect of getting that job,” Browne said. The Prime Minister also told regional media that he did not consider Dominica’s nominee to be a Caribbean candidate. “Baroness Scotland is actually an active member of the British Privy Council and therefore is not a Caribbean candidate,” Browne said. “We have three (candidates) and we’re hoping by the time we get to Malta we’ll have one”.

Courtesy: Guyana Times

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