Caribbean leaders are to consider the names of several prominent professionals, several of them ambassadors from the region, to replace Edwin Carrington who is due to retire at the end of December as secretary general after 18 years, officials said Monday.
Carrington, 73, dropped a political bombshell on the region last August by announcing his intention to demit office after nearly two decades, setting off a race among various governments to nominate their own professionals to replace the Tobago-born economist.
He is known to have been pilloried and badgered into leaving by Jamaica’s delegation to the annual summit in July, hence his announcement just weeks later that he was returning home to Trinidad, angry with the way the matter was handled by Jamaica.
CARICOM spokesman Leonard Robertson confirmed that a replacement search committee set up by leaders after Carrington quit had formally received the names of five professionals including Belizeian former Deputy Secretary General Carla Barnett, current CARICOM Trade Chief Irwin LaRocque of Dominica, Suriname’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Henry MacDonald, St. Lucia’s Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization Edwin Laurent and Elsworth John, ambassador of St. Vincent to CARICOM.
Robertson gave no further details, only confirming the names had formally been submitted to the search committee headed by Barbados Foreign Minister Maxine McLean.
Officials said it is unclear whether leaders will wait until their half yearly summit scheduled for Grenada either in February or March to decide on the new chief executive or will simply pick one name from whoever is shortlisted by the committee.
The nine-nation sub grouping of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) based in St. Lucia has already made its intention known that it is time for someone from their area to lead the regional effort at integration as most of the previous secretary’s general had come from the larger member states.
Three of the five are from the OECS, while Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse said on a visit to Guyana in September that it is time for someone from the Dutch-speaking South American nation to be at the helm of daily community affairs.