Suriname sets sight on CARICOM chief position

Vowing to play a more meaningful role in the Caribbean trade bloc since forming the government after the May 25 general elections, the Desi Bouterse administration in Suriname has dropped broad hints that it plans to nominate a candidate to replace retiring Secretary General Edwin Carrington who steps down at year-end.

In recent weeks, several top administration officials have expressed dissatisfaction with the less than a handful of Surinamese nationals working at or holding high office at the Guyana-headquarters of the 15-nation Caribbean Community.

Albert Ramdin, currently assistant secretary general of the Washington D. C-based Organization of American States had served as an assistant secretary general of CARICOM before heading to the OAS and holding down the second highest executive position there.

Word out of Paramaribo is that he might head up a list of possible candidates from Suriname, though it is unclear whether he would agree to this as he could with, some effort from the region, be the first from the Caribbean to actually become the head of the OAS in the near future.

Surinamese Foreign Minister Winston Lackin who traveled to New York with the Bouterse delegation for United Nations summits in the past week has said that “candidates have already been identified” from Suriname and that the list would be passed on to regional officials in the coming weeks.

Since he dropped the bombshell on the region last month, the bloc has set up a committee headed by Barbadian Foreign Minister Maxine McLean to short-list candidates to replace the 72-year-old Carrington, but officials say no list was presented to leaders when they met in New York Friday night.

“They are still a long way off,” said a senior CARICOM official who attended the meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity early Sunday. “No names were put on the table at that meeting.”

Suriname’s indication that it wants a local to be the executive head of CARICOM comes just about the same time the new Trinidad government has said that it plans to utilize the vast experience of Tobago-born Carrington after he retires.

“There is a place for Mr. Carrington and his services will be utilized,” said Trinidad Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar at a function in New York on Friday night. She said he will be rewarded “for what he has brought to the table, not only for Trinidad and Tobago, but for the entire region.”