ST JOHN’S, Antigua, February 16, 2015 — Some two months after withdrawing his government’s nominee for the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, has now written to fellow Heads of Government of the Commonwealth Caribbean to reinstate his nomination of Sir Ronald Sanders for the post.
In a letter dated February 12, 2015, Browne said that, since writing on December 10, 2014, regarding his withdrawal of Antigua and Barbuda’s nomination of Sanders, he has been overwhelmed by messages of regret and requests for reconsideration from within and beyond the Caribbean, including from some heads of government.
The burden of those messages, Browne said, was that the Commonwealth has been “deprived, at a time of crisis, of the candidate manifestly most suitable and most likely to be chosen, given his Commonwealth-wide network and diplomatic experience.”
“It has been impressed on me that Sir Ronald had the declared support of 9 of the 12 Commonwealth Caribbean governments at our December 8th meeting, and that it is still open to me to put him forward as the candidate of Antigua and Barbuda for the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General,” he said.
Browne continued that he has been reminded that, at the caucus of Heads of Commonwealth Caribbean governments in the margins of the Cuba-CARICOM conference on December 8, 2014, in Cuba, no other candidate mustered more than two votes, and that quite recently CARICOM heads of government did not apply any consensus requirement to candidates for the posts of Secretary-General of the ACP Group and the Deputy Secretary-General of the OAS.
“Nonetheless, in the interest of Caribbean unity among ourselves and in the projection of our unity to the Commonwealth, I am still anxious that we proceed by consensus if we possibly can. I have, therefore, strongly urged Sir Ronald to withdraw his intimation of standing down his candidacy despite his earlier decision in what he considered to be the interest of our region. He, too, would still prefer the region to go forward as one, and has told me of the great sense of honour he felt at receiving the backing of so many heads of government,” he said.
“I am pleased to say that in the circumstances he has accepted my proposal, and will make himself available to the Commonwealth as I have requested on the basis of the Caribbean’s consensus candidate. At our meeting later this month I shall therefore seek that consensus for Sir Ronald’s candidature as the next Commonwealth secretary general. Given that in Cuba last month there was majority support of Sir Ronald, I look forward in fraternity to your backing,” Browne concluded.
One of three initial candidates as the Caribbean Commonwealth’s nominee, Sanders has 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.
The other two candidates, Baroness Patricia Scotland, a sitting member of the British House of Lords, nominated by Dominica and supported only by Dominica and Barbados, and Senator Bhoe Tewarie, Trinidad and Tobago’s candidate and minister of planning and sustainable development, both have question marks against their candidacy.
Tewarie is little known within the Commonwealth and has little relevant experience, and Scotland has already created some controversy and consternation amongst foreign ministers from both CARICOM and the Commonwealth by unexpectedly appearing as Dominica’s representative at ministerial meetings in New York recently, where there was reportedly considerable reluctance and even downright refusal to discuss sensitive regional issues in the presence of a sitting member of the British parliament.
This article has been republished with the permission of Caribbean News Now, under a mutual republishing partnership with the Antillean Media Group. Edits by AMG. Image by The Commonwealth Secretariat under Creative Commons licensing.