KIGALI - The decision to admit Rwanda into the Commonwealth will be taken by the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) which kicks off this evening in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Signs are positive that Rwanda will emerge a member of the 53-nation group but the decision entirely depends on the outcome of the Heads of State meeting and it won’t be known until at least Saturday evening.
In an interview with The New Times, Rwanda’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Claver Gatete, currently in the Trinidad and Tobago capital, said that the mood is ‘positive and upbeat’ about Rwanda joining the group.
“The air is really positive here, the meeting is in high gear and there are no doubts on the bid, but we have to keep in mind that the decision lies entirely in the hands of the Heads of Governments,” an optimistic Gatete said.
Though Rwanda is not invited to this year’s CHOGM, Gatete who is in Port of Spain to monitor the progress of Rwanda’s admission in the group said that there are high chances of Rwanda joining the group this weekend.
“We really hope for the best. For the moment we can’t tell. Today foreign affairs ministers met to prepare for the Heads of Governments summit which kicks off Friday evening and the whole of Saturday,” Gatete added.
Emerging reports suggest that all member states have reached a unanimous decision to allow Rwanda join the group and some top officials of the group have hinted on Rwanda’s entry following a positive assessment report submitted by the Secretariat.
“So far so good, all the people I have talked to, the ministers have expressed optimism on Rwanda joining. There is nothing negative. The Secretariat did a good job in the report they submitted,” said Gatete but could not reveal the contents of the highly guarded report.
The report submitted to the Heads of State Summit by the Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma is expected to play a vital role in Rwanda’s admission to the 60- year body mainly composed of former British colonies.
The report is part of an assessment done by the Secretariat in 2008 to verify whether Rwanda meets the conditions required to join the group after earlier reviews and processes.
Rwanda’s bid is supported by Britain and fronted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown as well as Australia, Canada and India-the most influential countries in the group.
It also has the backing of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and the host country Trinidad and Tobago, among others.
Rwanda has reiterated that joining the Commonwealth is entirely for socio-economic reasons, especially the wider market and a large export base, tourism and other benefits that accrue from joining a large grouping of nations.
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.