Former President John Mahama has said he will support Ghana’s Foreign Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, in her bid to contest as Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
Ms Botchwey is hoping to succeed Dominica’s Patricia Scotland who completes her tenure at the end of 2023.
“I’m hearing it for the first time that our Foreign Affairs Minister is interested in the position of the Commonwealth Secretary-General.
“It’s Africa’s turn, why not, I mean we will have a Ghanaian Secretary- General, female. It’s something I will support,” Mr Mahama said when he delivered a public lecture at Chatham House in the United Kingdom (UK) last Friday.
The lecture was on the topic: “Africa’s strategic priorities and global role”.
The current Secretary-General at the end of this tenure would have completed the maximum tenure of two four-year terms.
The Secretary-General is nominated by Commonwealth leaders and can serve a maximum of two terms of four years each.
Ms Scotland was picked at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta in 2015.
She is the second Secretary-General from the Caribbean and the first woman to hold the post.
Botchwey has expressed interest in becoming the seventh Secretary-General of the Commonwealth and would be the second woman to assume that role should her dream be fulfilled.
Leaders of the Commonwealth nations will gather in Samoa in 2024 for the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Among the agenda will be the selection of a new Secretary-General for the 56-member association.
“I have worked closely with Baroness Patricia Scotland, she’s chosen me to lead several election observation missions in Kenya, Sierra Leone and other places,” Mahama said.
“I know her very well; she’s been quite a capable Secretary-General. Incidentally, she comes from the Caribbean, Dominica. And so if it’s Africa’s turn, why not? he asked.
Backing opposition candidates
Former President Mahama’s support for Ms Botchwey will not be the first time a leader in one party is supporting the candidacy of someone from an opposing party.
Five years ago, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) supported the bid of a former Foreign Minister under the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Hannah Tetteh, for a United Nations (UN) role.
She was, subsequently, appointed the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU).
Also, in 2006, the NPP supported the bid of Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas to become the President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission.
Dr Chambas, before his role at ECOWAS, had served as Cabinet Minister with different portfolios under the NDC administration.
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 56 independent and equal countries.
It is home to 2.5 billion people and includes both advanced economies and developing countries. Thirty two of its members are small states, including many island nations.
Its member governments have agreed to shared goals such as development, democracy and peace. Its values and principles are expressed in the Commonwealth Charter.
The Commonwealth’s roots go back to the British Empire. But today, any country can join the modern Commonwealth. The last two countries to join the Commonwealth were Gabon and Togo in 2022.