Is Jamaica Sending Mix Messaging In Commonwealth Exit?
Johnson Smith candidate for Commonwealth Secretary General
The Jamaican Government has announced the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, is set to run for Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. A decision on the appointment of a Secretary-General is to be made during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, to take place from June 20 to 25 in Kigali, Rwanda.
But is Jamaica sending mix messaging?
During the recent visit from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Jamaica has announced it is preparing to leave the Commonwealth. Kamina Johnson Smith who is currently an official government minister and a government lawyer, shouldn’t her role now be preparing for Commonwealth exit? Would this not be a conflict to be leaving the Commonwealth and taking on duties to be Secretary-General of the Commonwealth?
In a recent statement on her official Facebook Page, Johnson Smith wrote, I am both deeply honoured and supremely humbled to have been nominated as 🇯🇲’s candidate for Commonwealth Secretary General. It would be an absolute privilege to serve this great #FamilyofNations. Giving thanks tonight for all the support expressed as this journey starts.
The position Secretary-General of the Commonwealth was created, along with the Secretariat itself, after the fourteenth Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference in London in 1965, issued a memorandum describing the role of the Secretary-General: Both the Secretary-General and his/her staff should be seen to be the servants of Commonwealth countries collectively. They derive their functions from the authority of Commonwealth Heads of Government; and in the discharge of his/her responsibilities in this connection the Secretary-General should have access to Heads of Government… The headquarters of the secretary-general, as with the Secretariat generally, is at Marlborough House, a former royal residence in London, which was placed at the disposal of the Secretariat by Queen Elizabeth II, who is the head of Commonwealth. However, as the building cannot house all of the Secretariat’s staff in London, additional space is rented elsewhere in London. From this operational base, a large part of the Secretary-General’s work involves travelling around the Commonwealth keeping in personal contact with those at the heart of the governments of member states. The secretary-general receives a salary of nearly £160,000 (2015) and a four storey mansion, Garden House, in Mayfair as an official residence.
So does this mean Kamina Johnson Smith will give up her position as government minister?
According to the Jamaica Gleaner, the Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne call the Bid “A monumental error“. Browne pointed out that Jamaica was party to a recent CARICOM consensus endorsing the re-election of Baroness Scotland. In a twist of political deceit Jamaica’s Kamina Johnson Smith is to challenge the Baroness for the post of Commonwealth Secretary General which in return will divide CARICOM.
The Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne said, “Those who seek to divide and rule, are encouraging Jamaica to present a candidate in opposition to the current Secretary General, who is serving on a CARICOM rotation,” Prime Minister Browne said as Jamaica announced Johnson Smith’s candidacy.
“I think Jamaica’s proposed candidature for Commonwealth Secretary General, is a monumental error, which could only serve to divide the Caribbean,” he said. According to Browne, the consensus should never have been broken without overwhelming cause.
“The issue of Baroness Scotland’s dominant nationality is a now moot point. The reality is, she was born in Dominica, with Antiguan & Barbudan lineage. She is a Caribbeaner, she is a member of our CARICOM family deserving of the respect, solidarity and protection against those who seek to vilify and emasculate her,” he added.
The Gleaner states that Rwanda President Paul Kagame will visit Jamaica this week.