KIGALI - It is likely that Rwanda will join the 53-member country Commonwealth group by the end of this week, reports emerging from the negotiations reveal.
Reliable sources say that all member states unanimously support Rwanda joining the group mainly composed of former British colonies.
In an interview with a Canadian paper, the Ottawa Citizen, the Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma, said that Rwanda will emerge from this weekend’s meeting as a Commonwealth member but refused to make a clear prediction.
“Our meeting comes at a time when a lot of global dilemmas are stacked up,” said Sharma, who is chairing his first leaders’ summit. “I don’t want to presume what the leaders will decide to do.”
Another high level African negotiator who preferred anonymity told British press that “There is a consensus on Rwanda joining,” but could not delve into more details of negotiations, whose outcomes are highly guarded until the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) kicks-off in Trinidad and Tobago.
The CHOGM begins on the 27th of this month but the Commonwealth Business Forum which precedes the Heads of States meeting starts today in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago.
It is also reported that Rwanda will be admitted on the basis of a positive assessment report submitted by Sharma to the Heads of State Summit mid this year, whose contents are highly guarded, a senior source on the negotiating team revealed.
Attempts to get official comments from the government were futile as officials remain tightlipped on Rwanda’s bid-until the end of the high level meeting which will be opened by Queen Elizabeth II.
Rwanda, which has been pushing to join the Commonwealth, has received backing from Britain, Australia, Canada, South Africa, India, Uganda and Kenya among other countries.
The Commonwealth is a club of nations with a population of more than two billion and $2.8 trillion in annual trade. Its main focus is promoting trade, education and good governance among its member countries.
Former Portuguese colony Mozambique, admitted to the Commonwealth 14 years ago, is the only member without a direct British colonial connection but others, including Algeria and Yemen, are knocking on the door.
Israel and the Palestinians have also made tentative inquiries.