After being twice adjourned due to the pandemic, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is now underway in Kigali, from 20-26 June.
Held every two years, CHOGM usually brings together the 54 countries that make up the Commonwealth – a club of mostly former British territories and colonies, among them 19 African countries.
Royals, presidents, and prime ministers from Africa, Europe, Asia, and Southern America – are set to converge on Kigali to discuss this year’s theme: “Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, and transforming”.
The official opening of CHOGM 2022 takes place on Friday 24 June and will be followed by the main high-level meetings of Heads of Government from Friday 24 to Saturday 25 June.
Heads of Government are expected to decide on the next Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat in a decision that has to be made by consensus.
The issue is already in dispute because the incumbent Patricia Scotland, a Dominica-born British diplomat, barrister, and politician, is standing for re-election.
Scotland’s first term was due to come to an end in 2020, but because of COVID, the heads of government meeting due that year has twice been postponed.
She is challenged by Jamaican foreign minister Kamina Johnson Smith, who has been endorsed by the UK.
Media reports suggest that the UK is no longer confident that Baroness Scotland can modernize the organization.
Besides, at the end of CHOGM 2022, Rwandan President Paul Kagame will take over from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the chair-in-office of the Commonwealth of Nations for the next two years.
Togo could become the latest country to join the Commonwealth. They will officially submit their application during the meeting in Kigali. If their membership is approved, they will become the 20th African country to join the club.
The West-African state and former French colony has been trying to enter into what is known as the Commonwealth of Nations since 2014.
Zimbabwe will also be looking to see if it has made progress with its application to re-join the 54-nation group of mostly former British colonies.
Harare, which suggested attending the CHOGM as an observer, has also sought the support of hosts Rwanda in its re-admission bid.
For Rwanda, CHOGM is also a chance to flaunt its diplomatic credentials and show off its capital city as “a model for the whole continent to follow“.
A host of eminent political and business leaders are due to speak at the CBF, including President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; UK prime minister Boris Johnson; Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank; Vera Songwe, UN under-secretary-general and executive secretary of UNECA; and Wamkele Mene, secretary-general of the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat.