By Dionisia Tabureguci
Tuvalu is confident in the prospects of its former Governor General Sir Iakoba Taeia Italeli to make the Secretary-General’s position in the Commonwealth.
Sir Iakoba is Tuvalu’s nominee to head the eminent body, whose members include 54 independent countries, most of whom were former British colonies.
“We are extremely proud of his campaign because, if he wins, he will be the first person from a Pacific Small Island Developing State to hold the position. This is an incredible achievement. Right now, the incumbent, who hails from Dominica, and a candidate from Jamaica are contesting the position with Sir Italeli—who was also formerly our Attorney General,” Tuvalu’s Minister for Justice, Communications and Foreign Affairs Simon Kofe told PACNEWS.
“I recently travelled to London with Sir Iakoba to promote his campaign to the High Commissioners from Commonwealth Member States who are posted there. We are very positive about the prospects for Sir Italeli’s campaign, and we hope that the Pacific family can stand with him as he works to represent our Pacific region at this most important of organisations.”
Sir Iakoba is a graduate of International Maritime Law Institute at the University of Malta in 2001 and was appointed acting Attorney General of Tuvalu in 2002, a position he kept until 2006.
He successfully ran for public office for the first time in the Tuvaluan general election in 2006 and became the representative of the Nui district in the Parliament of Tuvalu, a position kept for four more years. He also served as the Minister of Education, Sports and Health, in the government of the Prime Minister, Apisai Ielemia and remained as minister until 2010 when he was appointed as governor-general.
The position of the Commonwealth S-G is currently held by Baroness Patricia Scotland of Dominica in the Caribbean, who was elected to the post at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta in 2015, and her re-election is scheduled to take place during the June 20 to 25 Commonwealth Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.
Dominica-born Scotland, a former British cabinet minister, is the sixth Secretary-General and second from the Caribbean as well as the first woman to hold the post.
However, her chance in the upcoming election is marked by a division in the Caribbean over whether to support her or Jamaica’s nominee Kamina Johnson-Smith, the island’s foreign affairs and foreign trade minister, with a sub-committee set up by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders early this month to look into the matter.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General is responsible for promoting and protecting the Commonwealth’s values, representing the Commonwealth publicly and the management of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The Secretary-General is nominated by Commonwealth leaders and serves a maximum of two terms of four years each.
However, media reports in the Caribbean say it is unlikely that Scotland will serve a second term in office as apart from division over her candidacy, she has not garnered support from Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, who are the bloc’s influential nations.
Tuvalu joined the Commonwealth in 1978.