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Jamaican candidate for top Commonwealth job starts Africa tour as election draws closer.

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Kamina Johnson Smith,Candidate for Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, arrived in Africa on Saturday, May 8, to begin her tour of the continent.

According to a statement announcing her visit, she plans to visit eight African Commonwealth member states from May 8 to 14, to discuss the future of the Commonwealth.

She will meet with various government officials from Lesotho, Botswana, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana to discuss her vision for the Commonwealth and the critical importance of the Africa-Caribbean cohort in the family of nations.

As noted, the Minister is inspired by the unique relationship that characterizes the Commonwealth and believes in the Commonwealth Charter as a framework to promote co-operation among member states, fostering friendship, fraternal dialogue and mutual respect.

Her transformative vision for the Commonwealth includes a renewed commitment to food security, delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals, advocacy for small states, gender and youth empowerment, good governance, and technical cooperation. Minster Johnson Smith is committed to advancing collaboration, building consensus and promoting peace and prosperity within the Commonwealth.

Candidature for Secretary-General of the Commonwealth

“African nations play a central role in determining the future of our Commonwealth and ensuring its shared values extend well into the future,” Minister Johnson Smith is quoted in the statement.

“I look forward to meeting with members of our Commonwealth family in Africa, to discussing the shared aspirations we have for development and for building a Commonwealth that will deliver on these aspirations for its member states and our people.”

The Jamaican Minister announced her candidature for Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations in April.

Dominican-born Patricia Scotland QC, is the current Secretary-General of Commonwealth, a post she held since April 1, 2016.

This June, Commonwealth Member States will select their next Secretary-General when they convene in Rwanda at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)

that will be held from June 20 to 25.

According to the statement announcing her tour of africa, Jamaica’s first female Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Minister Johnson Smith serves as leader of government business in Jamaica’s Senate. She is the Chair of the Cabinet’s International Relations Sub-Committee, a member of the Economic Growth and Job Creation Sub-Committee and is also a member of Jamaica’s National Security Council.

As noted, her leadership has successfully increased Jamaica’s international influence and visibility through roles that include chairing the Caribbean Forum of African Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) group and opening of discussions with the UK regarding post-Brexittrade arrangements.

She served as President of the ACP Council of Ministers, presiding over the process that secured the negotiating mandate of the ACP for a post-Cotonou Agreement with the EU.

In her first term as Foreign Minister, Johnson Smith was appointed as President of Council of the International Seabed Authority. She also chaired the 15-member Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM)Council of Foreign Ministers and the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development, and was the first Jamaican Foreign Minister to be invited to G7 and G20 meetings.

Who else in race for top Commonwealth Secretariat job?

Last year, Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated that Dr Monica Juma, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Energy, was endorsed by the African Union for election as Secretary General of the Commonwealth at elections to be held in June, in Kigali.

In March, however, reports indicated that Nairobi’s candidate quit the race.

The Secretary-General is nominated by Commonwealth leaders and can serve a maximum of two terms of four years each.

According to previous news reports, it was more than likely that Scotland’s re-election would go uncontested and that her term will be extended for a second time. Now, however, it turns out, her re-election will not go uncontested.

When Jamaica, in April, announced that its Foreign minister will contest for the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General, the announcement reportedly split the CARICOMbloc which previously backed the incumbent.

Scotland, a controversial figure in Britain who is the sixth Commonwealth Secretary-General, is reportedly bidding for a second and final four-year term as the head of the Commonwealth Secretariat. Back home in the UK, Scotland has been dogged by stories accusing her of a misuse of funds though she has always denied any wrongdoing.

Born in Dominica and raised in the UK, Scotland is the first woman to hold the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General. The British diplomat’s first term was set to lapse in 2020 but was extended twice due to Covid-19.

Scotland is still eligible for a second four-year term.

Earlier this month, Scotland was in Kigali where she met President Paul Kagame and Minister of Foreign Affairs, DrVincent Biruta, at Village Urugwiro. Later, Scotland conducted her first official visit to Tanzania since 2017 and met President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

Role of the Commonwealth Secretary-General

The Commonwealth Secretary-General is responsible for:promoting and protecting the Commonwealth’s values, representing the Commonwealth publicly, and the management of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The former Commonwealth Secretaries-General are:Kamalesh Sharma of India (2008-2016); Don McKinnon of New Zealand (2000-2008); Chief Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria (1990-2000); Sir Shridath ‘Sonny’ Ramphal of Guyana (1975-1990); and Arnold Smith of Canada (1965-1975).


Src: The new times

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