Race to Kigali: Prime Minister John Briceño signals Belize’s support for Kamina Johnson Smith

Prime Minister of Belize and CARICOM chairman John Briceño. (Photo: CARICOM.org)

Prime Minister of Belize John Briceño is now the second Caribbean leader to publicly endorse Kamina Johnson Smith’s candidacy for Commonwealth Secretary-General.

Briceño gave an overview of his position last night (May 25) as he spoke on popular Belizean station Love FM’s Live At 6 programme. 

He argued further that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) sub-committee failed to establish a single candidate for the position or to meet with both incumbent secretary-general Baroness Patricia Scotland and Johnson Smith. 

At the time, the sub-committee was deemed an important step as Jamaica’s April 1 announcement of Johnson Smith’s candidature effectively split the second largest voting group in the Commonwealth after Africa.

With time running out before the June 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, the decision was then made last Tuesday for CARICOM Member States to choose for themselves who to support for the position.

“CARICOM then decided to interview both candidates before we were to decide ‘Okay, who is it we are going to [support]?’; it was very difficult to get both of them [Baroness Patricia Scotland and Kamina Johnson Smith] to come within a short period,” remarked Briceño.

Scotland and Johnson Smith

“Because we could not have done that, CARICOM decided to allow CARICOM [member] countries to decide who they want to elect,” the prime minister added.

However, in explaining Belize’s rationale behind its endorsement of the Jamaican candidate, Briceño cited Johnson Smith’s experience as a government minister and senator in the Andrew Holness administration.

“Now, we are grateful to Baroness Scotland for the work but, at the moment we started to look at both candidates, Belize has decided we are going to support Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson Smith,” he disclosed.

“Why? Well, first of all, she has a wealth of experience. This is her second term as foreign minister, leader of government in the senate, [and has] chaired different committees worldwide,” mused Briceño.

According to Briceño, Belize was also heartened by Johnson Smith’s sentiments on collaborative development, as she was credited with saying “no country can have development by itself”.

“I believe she represents what we believe the Commonwealth Secretariat needs, and that is why Belize will support Kamina Johnson Smith,” he said.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamina Johnson Smith speaking with international press as one of Jamaica’s senior officials leading the country’s delegation at Expo 2020 in Dubai. (Photo: Twitter @kaminajsmith)
The headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, England. (Photo: Flickr.com)

The prime minister, who currently also serves as CARICOM chairman, insisted that his endorsement of Johnson Smith is not intended to represent the views of the regional political bloc.

As stated at the beginning of the report, Briceño’s nod to Johnson Smith is the second from the Caribbean after Prime Minister Keith Rowley and the fifth thus far after previous public endorsements from leaders of India, Maldives, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.


(Video: Facebook @LoveFMBelize)