Special to the AmNews
Caribbean governments have nominated three prominent professionals to lead a 79-nation, Brussels-based group of former European colonies, but some member states are very upset that those shortlisted come from countries that they say have traditionally dominated the top positions of umbrella regional and international organizations.
In the past week, Caribbean leaders and foreign ministers attending United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York City named the candidates from Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica for the position of secretary general of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group, but Suriname, Haiti and tiny St. Vincent, which had also submitted nominees, say their candidates have once again been ignored at the behest of the larger states.
The Guyana-based Caribbean Forum Secretariat, which includes the Dominican Republic, said Monday that Patrick Gomes, Guyana’s ambassador to Belgium; professor Hamid Ghany of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad; and Patricia Francis of Jamaica, a former executive director of the Geneva-based International Trade Center, have been put forward for interviews and approval by the ACP Group in the coming weeks. ACP Group ministers will then pick someone in December.
The Caribbean last ran the ACP Group through Edwin Carrington of Tobago. He had three consecutive terms, ending in the mid-1990s. He later served as the Caribbean trade bloc’s executive chief for 18 years.
The secretariat said that from February next year, it will be the Caribbean region’s turn to administer the affairs of the ACP Group, which was formed in Guyana in 1975 to oversee trade, aid and other relations with former European colonizing nations.
But like St. Vincent and Haiti, Suriname is upset that its candidate, Works Minister Rabin Parmessar, was not shortlisted. Officials in Paramaribo think this omission was part of a conspiracy against the lesser-regarded countries in Caricom, and those candidates from the usual suspects—Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad—were preferred and proffered over theirs.
“Trinidad, Guyana and Jamaica have previously or currently occupy all high positions,” Parmessar said on the weekend. “Suriname never, never.”
But even as the region has its own internal row over the nominees for the top position, the Africans are also upset with the Caribbean nations for daring to say it is that region’s turn to run the affairs of the ACP Group. They argue that Carl Greenidge of Guyana, who had acted for a year in the position after Carrington left, actually meant the region had used up another term, and that should have resulted in disqualification for eligibility. Not so, said Caricom. Its arguments prevailed.