Commonwealth sends assessment team

A team composed of senior officials of the Commonwealth organisation is in Kigali to assess the country’s eligibility to join the 53-nation grouping. Rwanda applied to join the organisation in 2003. The delegation held talks Monday with the Minister of Foreign affairs, Rosemary Museminali, and is also expected to meet other senior Government officials, political party leaders, Members of Parliament and the civil society. According to new membership regulations, “the Secretary General of the Commonwealth should carry out an informal assessment of the ability of the country concerned to meet the membership criteria”. The team will assess the election system, the level of democracy, governance and the judiciary, among others.
President Kagame shaking hands with the head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II, in Kampala, during the previous Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November, last year. Looking on is the Queen’s husband, Prince Phillip. (File photo)
President Kagame shaking hands with the head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II, in Kampala, during the previous Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November, last year. Looking on is the Queen’s husband, Prince Phillip. (File photo)

A team composed of senior officials of the Commonwealth organisation is in Kigali to assess the country’s eligibility to join the 53-nation grouping. Rwanda applied to join the organisation in 2003. The delegation held talks Monday with the Minister of Foreign affairs, Rosemary Museminali, and is also expected to meet other senior Government officials, political party leaders, Members of Parliament and the civil society. According to new membership regulations, “the Secretary General of the Commonwealth should carry out an informal assessment of the ability of the country concerned to meet the membership criteria”. The team will assess the election system, the level of democracy, governance and the judiciary, among others.

Speaking to The New Times yesterday, Museminali expressed optimism that Rwanda would pass the scrutiny.

She added that the assessment was routine.
“We are confident,” she said, “We believe that Rwanda is well governed”.

The assessment is the first of a four-step process. The team will make a confidential report to the Secretary General, and once the SG is satisfied that the applicant is likely to meet the criteria and has broad-based domestic support, he will then inform member states and seek their comments.

Once the two hurdles have been crossed, the country seeking admission will be invited to make a formal application, but will also have to show proof of a democratic process.

If Parliament passes a resolution supporting the application, that will be the last hurdle for eligibility.

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