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PM to address Johnson Smith’s Commonwealth bid at CARICOM meeting 

When CARICOM heads of government meet on Wednesday, Prime
Minister Andrew Holness will have to address the controversy
being generated by Jamaica’s

announcement last Friday of the
candidature of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Senator Kamina
Johnson Smith, for the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General.

With the announcement, Johnson Smith will be challenging the incumbent,
Dominica-born Baroness Patricia Scotland in June.

This is despite CARICOM leaders issuing a communiqué at the end of their March 1-2 Inter-sessional summit held in Belize, expressing their “overwhelming
support for the re-election of Scotland as Secretary-General of the
Commonwealth.

defended his Government’s move while seeking to assure that his
administration would do nothing to intentionally divide CARICOM.

In a lengthy statement in the House, Holness stated that towards the latter
part of the initial term of the current Secretary-General, several countries,including Jamaica, were approached regarding the possibility of
nominating a candidate for the post.

“Jamaica took the view, at that time, that whatever the issues that gave
impetus to members seeking alternative candidates, the first order of
response would be to resolve, with dialogue, to avoid disruption,” said
Holness.

He said it was clear that the impetus to seek an alternative candidate
strongly persists, with Kenya at one time nominating a candidate before
withdrawing. Holness noted that Tuvalu, in the South Pacific, formally
launched its candidature in London on Tuesday.

“It is quite possible that others could emerge,” Holness stated, before
adding that “we can conclude that the first term of the incumbent has left room for challenge”.

Holness said that Jamaica, in recent weeks, has had to “consider the state of affairs and future of the Commonwealth, in conjunction with the
incredibly strong encouragement and support, to put forward a candidate,
and specifically in the person of Minister Johnson Smith”.

The prime minister cited that her ministerial achievements in
international affairs are well known within and beyond the
Commonwealth. He said he was confident in Johnson Smith’s ability to
play that leadership role and, as such, considered it important to engage in a process of consultation, starting with colleagues in CARICOM.

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