Rwanda President Paul Kagame is the new Chairman of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Kagame replaces the United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“The Commonwealth, a family of 54 countries encompassing a third of humanity is united by an invisible thread of shared values, history and friendship,” said Boris on Friday while transferring the role to Kagame at the Kigali Convention Centre.
“We now pass the responsibility of Chair-in-Office to Rwanda to continue the work of the Commonwealth,” he revealed.
He added: “Our unique Commonwealth family is bound by our shared values and commitment to tackle today’s global challenges together.”
In his Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) speech, Boris said global prosperity and stability is being threatened – with Commonwealth countries bearing the brunt of Russian President “Putin’s folly in Ukraine”.
“Together we can bring food prices down and get the world economy back on track, as we stand up for the freedoms we all believe in,” he pointed out.
Speaking during the opening ceremony, Kagame said: “Everything we do, including joining the Commonwealth in 2009, is aimed at making sure that our people are connected, included and forward-looking.”
Patricia Scotland retains her seat
Friday marked the official opening of the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), being held under the theme, ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’.
At a colourful ceremony held at the Kigali Conference Centre, leaders from more than 50 Commonwealth nations gathered for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the meeting for two years, and heard remarks from HRH The Prince of Wales, the new Chair-In-Office and President of Rwanda, H.E. Paul Kagame, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, and outgoing Chair-In-Office, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP.
It was confirmed that the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC will retain her seat as Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
A statement from the Commonwealth spokesperson said: “Leaders of the Commonwealth have made a decision by consensus to reappoint Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, QC, for a further two years to complete the balance of her period in office.”
Speaking after her reappointment, the Secretary-General said: “It is deeply humbling to have been reappointed as Secretary-General of this great Commonwealth. To continue to serve our family of nations is a true honour and a privilege and I will do so to the best of my ability. We will face the world’s challenges with unity and purpose.”
Meanwhile, cancer survivors were given the unique opportunity to share their journeys with spouses and partners of Commonwealth Heads of Governments and Foreign Ministers at a special luncheon on cervical cancer elimination, hosted by Rwanda’s First Lady, H.E. Jeannette Kagame, and husband of the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Mr Richard Mawhinney.
The programme also included the launch of the Commonwealth version of the documentary, Conquering Cancer, which highlights cervical cancer elimination initiatives in various Commonwealth countries.
In other news, Commonwealth leaders and some of the most influential voices in global health gathered at the Kigali Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) where more than $4 billion in new funds was pledged towards the fight against malaria and NTDs.
The opening ceremony marks the end of five days of high-level events and forums which have seen more than 5,000 delegates gather to discuss some of the most important issues that face the Commonwealth.
Over the next two days, heads of government and representatives will meet in executive sessions and a leaders’ retreat to discuss shared priorities that will shape the work programmes of the organisation.
A final communiqué capturing the outcomes of deliberations by Heads of Government will be issued at the conclusion of the summit today, Saturday 25 June 2022.