KIGALI RWANDA– Heads of state of more than 50 Commonwealth nations gathered in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, on Friday for the official opening of the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Presidents, prime ministers and their representatives from across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Pacific and Europe assembled at the Kigali Conference Centre for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic spread globally and delayed the meeting for two years.
The meeting is held under the theme, ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’. It is also the first CHOGM to be held on the African continent since Uganda in 2007.
This morning, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, representing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as Head of the Commonwealth, emphasised the great value She has placed on the common friendship, humanities and values of the Commonwealth.
The Queen said: “As we build back from the pandemic that has devastated so many lives, as we respond to climate change and biodiversity loss that threatens our very existence, and as we see lives destroyed by the unattenuated aggression from violent forces, such friendships are more important than ever.”
“Our Commonwealth family is and will always remain a free association of independent self-governing nations. We meet and talk as equals, sharing our knowledge and experiences for the betterment of all citizens of the Commonwealth, and indeed the wider world.”
The host and new Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, the President of Rwanda H.E. Paul Kagame, warmly welcomed delegates to the meeting.
“We join together to pay tribute to Her Majesty The Queen, the Head of the Commonwealth, and its most devoted champion. Over her 70 years of service, the Commonwealth has grown both in number and the scope of its ambition..The Commonwealth we need is on the frontlines of global challenges, not on the peripheries, watching events unfold. Our special strength is to bring issues into focus that might otherwise be overlooked” He said.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the Rt Hon Boris Johnson highlighted the various global challenges confronting global leaders, including climate change, ensuring girls’ education and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. As outgoing Chair-In-Office, he thanked member countries.
“As I pass on this responsibility (as Chair-in-Office) to President Paul Kagame, a close friend and a partner, I know that he shares my boundless optimism about the future of the Commonwealth at the forefront of the international agenda and benefitting all our peoples.”