President Paul Kagame believes the decision to postpone the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2021), which was scheduled for June in Kigali, was an inevitable one to safeguard the lives of many.
In a statement issued jointly with the Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland QC, the Head of State said the meeting had to be called off as a result of the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic across the world.
President Kagame and the Commonwealth Secretary General said that having reviewed all available evidence and risk assessments, including with the World Health Organization (WHO) and their risk assessment tool, and after close consultation between the Commonwealth Secretariat and Member States, the only alternative was to postpone the CHOGM in Kigali for a second time.
“The decision to postpone CHOGM for a second time has not been taken lightly. We look forward to welcoming the Commonwealth family to Kigali for CHOGM at the appropriate time.” President Kagame said.
The decision came at a time when Commonwealth member states, including India and Caribbean Island nations, are battling an upsurge in Covid-19 cases and deaths.
“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to have a hugely damaging impact on our member countries, many of whom continue to face huge losses to lives and livelihoods. And while it is with deep disappointment and regret that we cannot bring Commonwealth leaders together at this time to discuss many of these critical issues, we must be mindful of the huge risks large meetings pose to all,” Scotland said.
“I want to thank the Government and people of Rwanda for their professionalism, support, patience and their impeccable readiness to hold CHOGM. And I want to thank all our member countries and, in particular, the United Kingdom as our Chair-in-Office and India, who have suffered so grievously in these trying times. I look forward warmly to a time when we can be reunited with the Commonwealth family, face-to-face, in Rwanda when the conditions allow for us to do so safely and securely,” she added.
Just last week on April 30, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, the UK Minister of State for the Commonwealth, who was in Rwanda on a three-day visit to assess the preparations had reiterated Rwanda’s readiness to host CHOGM.
In March, Scotland and her team in Rwanda to assess the progress in the preparations and affirmed that Rwanda was ready to host a successful physical CHOGM come June but the recent global upsurge of the New Coronavirus has ensured that it does not happen.
Both the Commonwealth and the Government of Rwanda are yet to communicate a new date. The meeting which was scheduled for June 2020, was postponed following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic with the hope that by 2021 the virus would have subsided.