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No regional consensus on Commonwealth Secretary General post


Editor: The decision to establish CARICOM was taken by Heads of Government on July 4, 1972, and the following year, the Treaty of Chaguaramas was signed, replacing CARIFTA, to have a more “togetherness,” not only in terms of free trade and free movement, but to “enhance levels of international competiveness” … and “enhance co-ordination.”{{more}}

It is regrettable that after 42 years the regional body is not heeding the Treaty in several ways: (a) decisions taken by Heads of Government are not implemented (b) freedom of movement not adhered to, hence the reason why the Jamaican woman, Shanique Myrie, sued the Barbados immigration authorities after she was finger searched and refused entry (c) harassment of some nationals, especially Guyanese and Jamaicans; and Trinidad and Tobago, and now members are undecided on a candidate to submit for the post of Commonwealth Secretary General.

Trinidad and Tobago has nominated Dr Bhoj Tiwari. who is hardly known outside his native country; the Commonwealth of Dominica has submitted Baroness Patricia Scotland, who was an active member of the London based Privy Council; and Antigua and Barbuda named Sir Ronald Sanders, a Guyanese born senior diplomat, who served on committees for the Commonwealth Secretariat and knows the operation of the Secretariat and will do an excellent job for the 53-nation body at this time in its history.

The Heads of Government should have discussed the nomination at its recently concluded meeting, but because of time constraints, the important issue was not discussed. But Caricom chair Freundel Stuart said he is heading a three-member committee to look into the matter and to make a suitable recommendation. Grenada Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, who is supporting Sir Ronald, said if the region does not agree on a single candidate, it could cost the region.

The post is rotated between Commonwealth regions and the Caribbean region is next in line. But the Grenadian Prime Minister said disunity in Caricom may jeopardize this practice. Caricom chair Freundel Stuart, who is also the Prime Minister of Barbados, said if the Caribbean misses out, it could take 40 years before the position rotates to the region. Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said Sanders is the forerunner candidate; he is not trailing behind any other; he has the most pledges and moreso, he is the best prospect of getting the job.

It is disturbing that regional leaders are so biased/nationalistic and blind to reality. They should look closely to the curriculum vitae of the three. it is clear, beyond a shadow of doubt, that Sir Ronald Sanders is miles ahead of the other two candidates.

Oscar Ramjeet