Commonwealth admits Gabon, Togo as new members

Adoba Echono, Rwanda

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The Commonwealth has admitted Gabon and Togo as its 55th and 56th members respectively. Both countries are former French colonies.

The Commonwealth leaders accepted applications by the two West African countries at the closing session of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.

It follows formal expressions of interest by Gabon and Togo and consultation with member countries.

Rwanda was the last country to join the Commonwealth, in 2009.

Welcoming the announcement, the Commonwealth Secretary-General the RT Hon Patricia Scotland, QC, said: “The Commonwealth, which began as eight nations in 1949, is growing to 56.”

“Our continued growth, beyond the scope of our history, reflects the advantages of Commonwealth membership and the strength of our association. I am thrilled to see these vibrant countries join the Commonwealth family and dedicate themselves to the values and aspiration of our Charter.”

Gabon has a population of two million people, bordering Cameroon also a member of the Commonwealth and Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of Congo.

Togo is bordered by Ghana a commonwealth member and Benin and Burkina Faso, it has a population of approximately 7.8 million people.

Neither country has an historic association with the Commonwealth, with both gaining independence from France in the 1960’s.

The eligibility criteria for Commonwealth membership, amongst other things, state that an applicant country should demonstrate commitment to democracy and democratic processes, including free and fair elections and representative legislatures; the rule of law and independence of the judiciary; good governance, including a well-trained public service and transparent public accounts; and protection of human rights, freedom of expression, and equality of opportunity.

At the end the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2022 (CHOGM 2022), in Kigali, under the theme of ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, transforming’ the leaders underscored the importance of connecting, innovating, and transforming in order to facilitate a full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, achieve the 2030 Agenda.

The Commonwealth leaders also reiterated their commitment to respond to conflicts and crises in ways that increase resilience and progress in delivering a common future, underpinned by sustainability, peace and prosperity, to improve the lives of all the people of the Commonwealth.

Hauwa M.

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