Kamina Johnson Smith fail to oust Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland

Johnson Smith’s audacious bid, which was widely seen to have been engineered by the UK, culminated behind closed doors at Friday’s meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali.

She strongly denied this.

Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister was briefing journalists on his way over to Kigali in a bullish fashion, thanking Scotland for her service and looking forward to the new candidate’s bid.

On Friday, he said the result was a “good day for democracy”, an underpinning quality of the Commonwealth.

While her bid failed, the vote exposes a deeply divided Commonwealth under Scotland’s leadership which has been marred by questions over her financial management, personal style and accusations of playing favourites among the group of nations.


Australia, UK and New Zealand, at one stage, withdrew funding from the Commonwealth-Secretariat.

The Baroness, in a last-ditch effort to save her career, had to promise that she would only seek two more years in the job instead of a full second term.

This was significant as it would have swayed African countries to her side.

Under convention, the Secretary-General role is rotated around the four geographical blocs that comprise the Commonwealth: the Pacific, Asia, Europe and Africa.


Scotland’s term was extended two years because of the pandemic and the inability to host this year’s summit which was originally scheduled for 2020.

A rift opened up over whether the 2022 election should constitute a new full four-year term or two more years.

Johnson Smith sought a full second term which would have denied the Africans the chance at taking up the role for two more years as had been expected before the pandemic.

“When the role of Secretary-General rotates to Africa two years from now, I will hand on the baton with a stronger, more effective, more powerful Commonwealth than ever before,” she told Heads of Government shortly before they voted.

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