Kenya Defence minister Juma proposed for Commonwealth top job

Saturday August 28 2021
Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma

Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma during an interview at her Ministry of Defence office in Nairobi last year. PHOTO | POOL


Kenya’s Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma has been proposed for the post of Secretary-General of the Commonwealth in what could kick start another round of lobbying for the veteran diplomat.

Multiple sources told The EastAfrican that the government was preparing a formal bid to announce Dr Juma’s candidature, which will launch official engagement with leaders of the other 54 Commonwealth member countries.

Dr Juma has served as the country’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Interior Principal Secretary, ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti, and Permanent Representative to the AU and Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

Her most recent international diplomatic campaign was last year’s tough but successful bid by Kenya for the UN Security Council against Djibouti.

Patricia Scotland served two more years on her first term, complicating the contest for the second term.

Under Commonwealth rules of elections, the Secretary-General’s four-year term, renewable once, can only be extended by a year. Additional extensions would mean she has served two terms.


Postponed Chogm summit

Baroness Scotland, a British barrister who became the first black Attorney General of the UK, took office in 2006 and was expected to face a re-election summit in June 2020, during the planned Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in Rwanda capital, Kigali. However, due to Covid-19, the summit was postponed to June 2021, before it was pushed back again to next year.

“We can continue with year-on-year extension, but it is not ideal. We can also ask whether her extension is by two years or a full term of four years as she got extensions unrelated to a full second term,” a Kenyan diplomat told The EastAfrican. Commonwealth rules say the Secretary-General will remain in office until leaders decide otherwise under Chogm.

Though the Commonwealth influence has waned over time, the Secretary-General’s seat is still influential, acting as the voice of the "Club."