African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

Posted by African Press International on November 22, 2007

odera-omolo.jpgBy Leo Odera Omolo,

API/APN in Kampala

The tiny Republic of Rwanda which had earlier applied to be admitted to the Commonwealth will have to wait for another two years.

This followed the disclosure that this weeks meeting of the Commonwealth heads of States and Government (CHOGM) will not admit new members to the 53 member States Club.

Rwanda, a former French colony, has been applying to join the Commonwealth since 2003.

It was the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs James Mugune disclosed last week that the Kampala summit would only deal with criteria of joining the Commonwealth.

There is only one report on membership and its about criteria. What CHOGM 2007 will discuss is the criteria for joining the Commonwealth, said Mr. Mugune, adding that the report on who will join will be tabled and adopted at the next meeting.

Rwanda along with six other countries, has mooted plans to join the 53 nation group, but its admission can only be determined at the next CHOGM, to be held in 2009 in Trimdad and Tobago.

Besides Rwanda, there are applications from other countries like Madagascar and Algeria, Yemen, Sudan, Israel and Palestine have been mentioned as potential future members.

Pundits were, however, quick in pointing out that even without considering of criteria for admission is expected to be a sensitive one. Among other things, member countries must have had historical tie as former colonies of Britain.

Rwanda, Madagascar and Algeria are all former French colonies and the latters official language is French. Mozambique is currently the only non-English speaking country that has been admitted to the Commonwealth.

However, Rwandas recent history has swung the country AWAY FROM ITS French ties and strengthened its Anglophone connections. The country has officially adopted English as the second official language in the past 1994 genocide period, with a good number of its citizens having lived in English speaking countries as refugees.

But according to sources within the Commonwealth there are economic benefits that attract non-members with its present membership of 53 countries, the commonwealth constitutes over 40 per cent of the World Trade Organization, making its influential in global trade.

Commonwealth countries handle trade worth USD 2.8 trillion annually and with foreign direct investment outflows of USD 100 trillion, which account for more than 20 per cent of international trade and investment.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame is one of key speakers at the Kampalas Commonwealth Business Forum, which is running alongside the main CHOGM summit.


Published by API/APN


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