CHOGM officially opens

Leaders from 54 countries are meeting in Kigali on Friday, June 24, for the official opening of the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the sixth time the event is hosted by an African country.

The leaders attending the opening session include the Prince of Wales Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla along with 35 other Heads of Government.

The official opening of CHOGM will followed by the main high-level meetings of Heads on Friday to Saturday June, 25. These were preceded by four Forums, ministerial meetings, side events and other activities that started on June 19 and attracted more than 5,000 participants from government, business, and civil society, among others.

The official Retreat for leaders will be held at Kigali’s Intare Conference Arena on June 25.

At the Leaders Retreat – unique to the Commonwealth – Heads of Government meet privately to discuss collaboration on global and Commonwealth priorities.

The Executive Sessions of the Heads of Government will be held behind closed doors, with the leaders discussing some of the most pressing issues affecting the Commonwealth and the world as a whole.

In a previous press briefing, Rwanda government spokesperson, Yolande Makolo, told journalists that: “Their discussions will revolve around a number of things, including climate emergency, which is very important because many island nations, which are members of the Commonwealth, are among the highly affected countries.”

Other issues to be discussed by the Heads of State and Government include youth and job creation, especially digital affiliated jobs, she added.

“They will also discuss pandemic recovery and resilience and the impact of the geopolitical situation – with the war in Ukraine and its impact on inflation especially in developing countries.”

It will be the first time in four years for the Commonwealth leaders to meet face-to-face under one roof.

During the Executive Session, President Paul Kagame will take over from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the Chair-in-Office for the next two years. The Commonwealth boasts 2.5 billion people from across the world.

This is the sixth time that CHOGM is taking place in Africa.

“Since the last time the Commonwealth family came together for CHOGM in 2018, the onset of Covid-19, new and ongoing conflicts, and the accelerated impact of climate change have fundamentally altered the global landscape and tested our resilience,” Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland QC said in a statement released earlier on Sunday.

She added: “This succession of events has changed lives, livelihoods, communities and economies. We know that in times of crises, the poor and most vulnerable are disproportionately affected. Many development gains, likewise, have been thrown off track, while others have regressed.”

Leaders at CHOGM are committed to harnessing lessons learned, working together and taking inspiration from the innovative solutions that we’ve seen emerge over the past few years, she added.

“The Commonwealth is a bedrock for member states, rooted in a shared history, collective aspirations and progressive solutions. At a time when multilateralism is under serious strain, CHOGM offers a vital forum to deliver the objectives of member states and an opportunity to draw upon all the talents of the member states to deliver a smarter, more resilient, prosperous, confident and sustainable Commonwealth.”

During the week-long meeting, delegates were also engaged in different social activities including the Kigali People’s Festival, CHOGM Street Festival, Kigali Night Run, CHOGM Cricket Tournament, and CHOGM Networking Golf Tournament.