Dominican-born, Baroness Patricia Scotland has retained her position as Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat as she defeated Jamaica’s Kamina Johnson-Smith to the post at CHOGM 2022 in Rwanda.
Baroness Scotland received 27 votes while Jamacia’s Kamina Johnson-Smith managed 23 votes.
Scotland’s term was supposed to come to an end in 2020, but was further extended as the Commonwealth summit scheduled for that year could not take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She will now serve a second term of two years as she has served six years instead of four in her first stint as the Secretary-General.
Speaking after her reappointment, Baroness Scotland say it is an honor to serve the Commonwealth for a second term.
“I want to say a heartfelt thank you to every Dominican who has walked with me, who has prayed for me, and to who has known of what we can do together as Dominicans is special. It has been my great honor to serve the whole Commonwealth of 2.5 billion people, 60% of whom are under the age of thirty. To be given this privilege as a Dominican, to serve our Commonwealth again for a second term, is a privilege and honor in which I value.”
The UK, among others, has been critical of the Secretariat’s governance and financial stability and also gave their support along with India, and Belize to Jamaica’s Foreign Minister, Kamina Johnson-Smith.
Scotland, however, received the backing of her native country Dominica and also Antigua and Barbuda.
“I will commend all of those who have fought so hard, to bring us to this point; I give my thanks and appreciation to our wonderful and beloved Prime Minister [Roosevelt Skerrit], but also to the fantastic team, to the Foreign Minister, to the High Commission here, what would I have done without them? They helped us craft a perfectly weighted stone for David. We were faced with Goliath-like problems, but you know, we Dominicans, we are resilient, we don’t give up. So, we honed that stone, and we took that sling, and Goliath fell, but now is the time for us to heal. We have to work for all 2.56 billion people, who are facing so many difficult times,” the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Patricia Scotland said.
Her closest challenger, Jamaica’s Foreign Minister, Kamina Johnson-Smith conceded defeat in a Tweet earlier today.
“As I said to many of you, if I didn’t pull through, God wasn’t ready for me to leave Jamaica yet! I continue to serve, and of course, sincere congratulations to Baroness Scotland,” she wrote.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit who is currently attending the Commonwealth Heads of Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda congratulated the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Patricia Scotland on being re-elected to head the 54-member group.
“Well I want to congratulate Baroness Scotland, on her reappointment on her second term as Secretary- General of the Commonwealth,” PM Skerrit said. “As you know, she was challenged by the candidate from Jamaica, but also the candidate from Tuvalu, where there was a first round of which Baroness Scotland won, but obviously it had to go into a run-off and the Tuvalu candidate withdrew, and Baroness Scotland won on the second round of voting.”
The Prime Minister also commended the Jamaican candidate who he described as a “formidable candidate with credible credentials”.
He said the contest for the Commonwealth Secretary-General was vigorously contested.
“The reality is that the contest was very rigorous, but we eventually triumphed and I want to thank all those who did not vote for Dominica, we are now a united Commonwealth with the Secretary General. I also want to particularly thank the many countries which supported us throughout this process; I can tell you that countries in Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean, really worked with us shoulder to shoulder to ensure that Baroness Scotland would’ve been victorious,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said.