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Nominees for ACP Secretary General identified; Suriname objects

The short-listing of a Guyanese, Jamaican and Trinidadian for the post of Secretary General of the 77-nation African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group has not gone down well with neighbouring Suriname which feels that it is being sidelined from top posts.

Guyana’s Ambassador to Brussels, Dr. Patrick I. Gomes is among the trio to be interviewed by the ACP Bureau before the appointment is announced in December, 2014 by the Group’s Ministerial Meeting.

It is now the Caribbean’s turn to hold the post from 2015 to 2020 regarded as a crucial period for the last round of negotiations between the ACP and the EU on the Cotonou Agreement.

While the ACP’s rules require the selection of six candidates from which three are shortlisted, Suriname has argued that the region ought to have reached consensus on one candidate- preferably that former Dutch Colony’s nominee, Rabin Parmessar. “It’s time for the Caribbean region to show their teeth. It is our term to appoint a SG for the ACP, and we have opposed to the idea to name three candidates for the ACP ministerial council to vote on, instead of just present one candidate,” he said.

The other nominees are Jamaica’s Patricia Francis who is a former Executive Director of the International Trade Centre- a joint agency of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the United Nations- and Dr. Hamid Ghany of Trinidad and Tobago. He is a Professor at the University of the West Indies.

Guyana’s Foreign Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett would only confirm that Guyana has a candidate and “we await the outcome of the process.”  “I am happy that the process has advanced for selecting the Secretary General of the ACP. Solidarity will make us stronger in our relations with Europe,” she said.

Parmessar argued that he was not only the right man for the job, but that Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica were taking all the top posts and shutting out countries like Suriname. St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Haiti and Suriname have been knocked out.

Registering its disapproval with the process, Suriname has gone as far as boycotting a session on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York where the candidates were expected to make presentations.

Trinidad and Tobago’s  Edwin Carrrington was the first Caribbean national to have headed the ACP. Guyana’s Carl Greenidge, who was substantively Assistant Secretary General, had acted in the top post.

But a well-placed source in Georgetown countered by insisting that the ACP used the right formula to determine the next ACP boss. Further, the source disputed Suriname’s contention that it is being blocked from holding top regional and hemispheric posts.  A Surinamese is the Deputy Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), Assistant Secretary General of the Organisation of American States (OAS).

The Caribbean Forum of the ACP is made up of the 15 independent Caricom member states and the Dominican Republic.