Rwanda: Canada Backs Country’s Commonwealth Bid – November 25, 2009

Kigali — As negotiations to admit Rwanda into the Commonwealth get into the final lap, Canada, one of the most influential member of the grouping, has affirmed its support for Rwanda’s bid to join the 53-nations bloc.

“Canada would welcome the admission of Rwanda to the Commonwealth,” a spokesperson for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department was quoted by AFP.

“The Commonwealth is well positioned to assist Rwanda in strengthening its democratic institutions,” the official added.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is reported to be leading the bid to admit Rwanda to the club during the biennial Commonwealth Heads of States Meeting starting on Friday in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago.

Canada and Australia, both major funders of the Commonwealth, have expressed their support for Rwanda’s bid. Other nations backing Rwanda’s entry into the Commonwealth include India, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma has also hinted on Rwanda emerging from this weekend’s meeting as a Commonwealth member but refused to make a clear prediction.

Rwanda will be admitted on the basis of a positive assessment report submitted by Sharma to the Heads of State Summit mid this year, whose contents are highly guarded, a senior source on the negotiating team revealed. The country has been vying to join the elite group for the last five years for economic reasons worth $2.8 trillion in annual trade. It will join Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony admitted to the Commonwealth 14 years ago, as the only member without a direct British colonial connection.

Set up 60 years ago, the Commonwealth represents two billion people and accounts for a fifth of the world’s trade.