October 20, 2020

Guyana backs Antigua-Barbuda nominee for top Commonwealth post

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sanders14From Caribbean News Now

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — The Guyana government has indicated that it will give its full support to Antigua and Barbuda nominee, , for the post of Commonwealth secretary-general when leaders of the 53-member association meet at the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta. A new secretary-general will be selected by heads of government on Friday, the first day of the summit.

The sixth Commonwealth secretary-general will take office on April 1, 2016, when the current secretary-general Kamalesh Sharma demits office on the expiration of his second term in office.

Sanders is currently Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the United States and its permanent representative to the Organisation of American States (OAS).

The only Caribbean national to hold the post of Commonwealth secretary-general was former attorney general of Guyana Sir Shridath Ramphal, who served from 1975 to 1990.

Over the past few months, the region has been giving consideration to three nominees for the top Commonwealth post but has so far failed to reach a consensus.

Dr Bhoe Tewarie, academic, politician and former minister of planning and economic affairs under the previous People’s Partnership government in Trinidad and Tobago, had been nominated by then prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

However, his candidacy was withdrawn when current prime minister, Dr Keith Rowley, assumed office after general elections in September. Rowley stated that Trinidad and Tobago will be supporting Sanders and encouraged other countries to do the same.

david_granger12In fact, the majority of Caribbean Commonwealth countries are reportedly supporting Sanders, now including President David Granger of Guyana.

“I would like to formally state that Guyana has given its support to Sir Ronald Sanders to be secretary-general. One of the pillars of the is coordination of foreign policy and we had hoped by now that would have agreed on a consensus candidate,” Granger said.

According to Granger, based on the reputation Sanders has built himself over the last three decades, it is well known that he has a great concern for small states, which comprise the majority of the Commonwealth.

“We regard him as a friend of the Commonwealth and Guyana. Small states expect to see the secretary-general coming out in even greater support of small-state security, climate change in small states and the economy of trade and commerce,” he said.

With Guyana facing a number of challenges, Granger said the border controversy with Venezuela and the vulnerability of fluctuation and variations in the economic environment will be among the pressing issues the new secretary- general will have to address.

Former foreign affairs minister Rashleigh Jackson commended Granger for supporting Sanders and believes that the “majority of the Commonwealth will be supporting him.”

While Guyana is supporting Sanders, Barbados and have indicated that they are supporting British Baroness Patricia Scotland whose name was put forward by Dominica, the Guyana Chronicle reported, adding that it appears that Barbados and Belize are sticking together to facilitate a trade-off in relation to another key international post.

Although born in Dominica, Scotland’s career has been in London in law and British politics, most recently being Britain’s attorney general under the previous Labour government.

Her candidacy has been described as “tainted” by a number of influential regional political and academic figures because she is widely regarded as Britain’s candidate for the role, and damagingly there is also the view that she forfeited the Caribbean’s trust, when she supported Britain’s decision to invade Iraq.

It is also said that she did not do enough to support the region as a Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister.

On the other hand, Sanders has the support of several Caribbean nations. Nominated by Antigua’s Prime Minister Gaston Brown, he has by far the broadest Commonwealth experience and background, having played a key role in Commonwealth affairs over many years, including in the Eminent Persons Group that reported in 2011 on the future direction and reform of the organisation.

He is well known across the region because of the sometimes forthright views expressed in his syndicated column published by Caribbean News Now. He is also well regarded in both the ‘new’ and the ‘old’ Commonwealth and has published many papers on the future of the organisation.

The Guyana Chronicle noted that whoever becomes Commonwealth secretary-general in 2015 will be taking over at a time when the global strategic order is changing. There is a growing belief that, with the right leadership and vision, the shared values that bind the Commonwealth will again become of global significance.

For this reason, when the Caribbean comes to decide, it would do well to select a candidate who is in touch with regional sentiment, can engage with the detail, has a known world view, is able to relate to all the nations of the Commonwealth, large and small, and is prepared to redefine its role as a stronger, more resilient and progressive organisation, the newspaper said.

While the majority in the region seems to be behind Sanders, retired Guyanese diplomat Dr Odeen Ishmael is concerned that the region has not decided on a single candidate.

This, he said can signal to the other Commonwealth nations that there is division in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which can influence them to give their support to Botswana’s candidate Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba.

Meanwhile, prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis Dr Timothy Harris has called on the leaders of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to move the programme forward with respect to deciding on a single candidate.

This is important, he said to avoid setting a dangerous precedent “where any island, any member of CARICOM could go on its own personal agenda which makes it ever so difficult whenever we need to leverage the collective strength of the region”.

In addition to Trinidad and Tobago, the prime ministers of Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines have both expressed unequivocal support for Sanders.

IMAGES:
Sir Ronald Sanders
President David Granger

For more on this story go to: http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-Guyana-backs-Antigua-Barbuda-nominee-for-top-Commonwealth-post-28428.html

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