Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Defence, Monica Juma is currently in London on a charm offensive to rally support for the post of Secretary General (SG) of the Commonwealth.
Find out who CS Juma will be competing against for Commonwealth job
CS Juma officially presents her candidature for the position of Secretary General.
Last month, President Uhuru Kenyatta urged the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit (CHOGM) to consider Juma, saying Juma has exemplarily served as one of Kenya’s top diplomats and has experience following her previous duties as Foreign Affairs CS.
Juma will be up against, Dominican-born Patricia Scotland who is the current SG. Appointed in 2015, the baroness wants a second and final four-year term in office.
Her first term has been automatically extended because the annual CHOGM was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Allies of the baroness claim Britain is launching a ham-fisted attempt to oust her by promoting rival candidates but in breach of a convention agreed between the various geographical blocs of Commonwealth countries.
Under the convention, it is the Caribbean’s turn to have their candidate in the position for the next term, with the understanding that Africa’s candidate would take the helm in the following term.
Juma’s nomination came as a surprise as no date has been set for the next CHOGM when leaders are due to vote on the position.
The president said that the CS will be a strong consensus candidate, who will deliver an effective Secretariat driven by member state priorities.
“She will help bolster unity amongst the Commonwealth family, and also enhance innovative partnership that optimises the impact of our organisation.”
Last week, Britain’s new Foreign Secretary Liz Truss pointedly listed Juma’s candidacy as the first item of discussion during her talks with Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Raychelle Omamo.
CS Juma's nomination did not sit well with the Caribbean contingent with some leaders claiming that her appointment would be detrimental to the unity of the commonwealth.
The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, who chairs the Caribbean bloc known as CARICOM, wrote to all heads of the Commonwealth last week telling them to back off saying the undermining of Baroness Scotland risked dividing the union.
“It now appears that the separate regions of Africa, Asia and the Pacific have been or are being encouraged to present candidates in opposition to the current Secretary-General,” Browne wrote.
“If we are to live up to the values of the Commonwealth which we share and hold dear, we should eschew any attempts to pit our countries and our regions one against the other.
“Events we have faced in recent years have illustrated that our Commonwealth family cannot afford to be divided,” Browne warned.
Browne wrote his letter before a virtual meeting of Commonwealth Foreign Ministers on September 17 but later sent it to a wider network, including all Commonwealth High Commissioners.
Juma’s Diplomatic Experience
Prior to her appointment to the Executive, Juma was Ambassador Extra-Ordinary and Plenipotentiary of Kenya to Ethiopia and Djibouti, and Permanent Representative of Kenya to the African Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
She also served under the same docket for the United Nations Commission for Africa (UNECA) between June 2010 and July 2013.
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