February 23, 2011

CARICOM's puzzling secrecy By Rickey Singh


AS Trinidad and Tobago awaits the coming broadcast to the nation by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on new initiatives to curb the epidemic of criminality, I wish to focus on a regional issue of much concern at this time to our Caribbean Community (Caricom):It pertains to the evident secrecy over the official "search'' to select an appropriate candidate for appointment a new Secretary General of Caricom to succeed Edwin Carrington
The 72-year-old Tobago-born Carrington, a former secretary general of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states, retired last year after faithfully serving in that post for 18 years.

It is the norm for regional, hemispheric and international organisations, such as the United Nations, Organisation of American States, Commonwealth Secretariat and Pan-American Health Organisation, to indicate efforts to fill vacancies in their top posts and even provide names of nominees, as endorsed by their respective governments.

This is not happening in Caricom where a ten-member search committee, under the chairmanship of Barbados' Foreign Minister Senator Maxine McLean was mandated by Community Heads of Government last August to help in short-listing potential suitable candidates for the post of Secretary General.

The committee was established shortly after Carrington had officially announced on August 4, 2010, his decision to retire last year end after serving as Secretary General for 18 years.

His surprised announcement had followed a special caucus of Heads of Government at last July's Caricom Summit in Montego Bay. But host Prime Minister Bruce Golding, had denied that Carrington may have been provoked into making that decision as a consequence of the nature of the deliberations at the Montego Bay caucus.

Neither information on specific terms of reference to guide the work of the search committee nor qualification criteria required of potential candidates was forthcoming.

Beyond, that is, a bland press announcement which followed a meeting that was scheduled to deal with the broader and very pressing, but elusive issue of improved governance of an almost 34-year-old Caricom.

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