Commonwealth votes to keep Patricia Scotland as secretary-general

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Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland speaks during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda June 24, 2022. Dan Kitwood/Pool via REUTERS

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KIGALI, June 24 (Reuters) - Commonwealth members voted to keep Patricia Scotland as secretary-general of the 54-nation club after some members including Britain tried to oust her, two sources told Reuters after a behind-closed-doors vote.

Born in Dominica and raised in Britain, Scotland had a career as a lawyer and politician in Britain before taking up the post of secretary-general of the Commonwealth in 2016. She embraced supporters after the vote, the sources said.

Her time in office has been dogged by allegations of poor leadership, including over a lavish refurbishment of her official lodgings in London, the award of a lucrative contract to a friend and other scandals that have been widely reported in the British media. Scotland denies any wrongdoing.

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Her term was supposed to finish in 2020, but was extended because the Commonwealth summit scheduled for that year could not take place due to the COVID pandemic. After a two-year delay, it is now taking place in the Rwandan capital.

Having served six years instead of four, she will now serve a second term of just two years.

In her speech to the opening ceremony of the summit, which she delivered ahead of the vote, she had sounded confident about continuing in the role.

"I am determined that, when the role of secretary-general rotates to Africa two years from now, I will hand on the baton with a stronger, more effective, more powerful Commonwealth than ever before," she said.

She was facing a challenge from Kamina Johnson Smith, the foreign minister of Jamaica, who conceded defeat in a Tweet.

"If I didn't pull through, God wasn't ready for me to leave Jamaica yet!" she wrote. "I continue to serve, and of course, sincere congratulations to Baroness Scotland."

Scotland is a member of Britain's House of Lords, hence the title.

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Reporting by Ayenat Mersie; writing by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Mark Heinrich

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