President Kagame with Queen Elizabeth of England during a past CHOGM meeting held in Uganda. The Queen is the head of the Commonwealth. (Archive photo)

TRINIDAD and TOBAGO – Rwanda has finally been admitted into the Commonwealth group of nations.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) taking place in Trinidad and Tobago yesterday evening confirmed Rwanda’s entry into the 53-nation group mainly composed of former British colonies.

“We haven’t received all the details, but it is confirmed that the Heads of State summit admitted Rwanda into the Commonwealth,” Rwanda’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Claver Gatete, told The Sunday Times from Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago.

Rwanda’s admission was based on 4 grounds including democracy and democratic processes such as free and fair elections, rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, good governance including a well trained public service, and transparency.

The other aspects were the protection of human rights, freedom of expression and equal opportunity.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Louise Mushikiwabo, the government spokesperson, said that Rwanda ‘is pleased’ and welcomes the country’s admission into the elite group.

“My government sees this accession as recognition of the tremendous progress this country has made in the last 15 years,”

“Rwandans are ready to seize economic, political, cultural and other opportunities offered by the Commonwealth network,” said Mushikiwabo who also doubles as the Information Minister.

Rwanda becomes the second member to be admitted into the Commonwealth without any direct British colonial connection or constitutional link. The other country is Mozambique.

Rwanda’s bid to join the group had overwhelming support from Britain, Australia, Canada and India-the most influential countries in the group.

It also had the backing of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and the host country Trinidad and Tobago, among others.

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 member countries.

Mushikiwabo said that Rwanda will equally have a lot to offer to the member states upon joining.

“They (Commonwealth) are also poised to share some of the lessons learned in rebuilding a nation such as consensus building, advancement of women and tolerance.”
There will be a press conference today to officially announce the country’s entry into the group.

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