By APN Reporter
Commonwealth Heads of States and Government’s Meeting (CHOGM) which was scheduled for June 21st this year has been postponed due to the Covid-19 surge and related effects in some member countries.
This is according to a joint statement by President Paul Kagame and Patricia Scotland, the Commonwealth Secretary-General.
“The decision to postpone CHOGM for a second time has not been taken lightly. The health and welfare of all Commonwealth citizens at this critical time must take precedence. We look forward to welcoming the Commonwealth family to Kigali for CHOGM at the appropriate time,” President Kagame said.
The secretariat noted that using the World Health Organization risk assessment tool, the CHOGM total risk and mitigation ranks at level 4 which is high.
“The overall risk of transmission and further spread of COVID-19 was also rated high, which implies not only a threat to travellers but to the people of Rwanda itself should imported variants spread within the country,” the communique reads in part.
The secretariat also noted that 29 of the CHOGM member countries had implemented either a partial or full border closure, including Pacific Island nations and several Asian and Caribbean nations.
With that, a number of countries have closed their borders and have also, in the majority of cases, banned international flights or imposed severe restrictions which would have reduced the participation of Heads of State and Government summit and the four forums.
Based on the set of factors, and in consultation with the Rwandan Government, the secretariat took the decision to postpone the summit for the second time.
“Having reviewed all the available evidence and risk assessments in close consultation with the Government of Rwanda, we have, with deep regret and despite the enormous efforts Rwanda has made in preparation for hosting CHOGM efficiently and safely in June 2021, come to the unavoidable conclusion that we are compelled to postpone the CHOGM in Kigali for a second time,” the secretariat wrote.
Going forward, the Commonwealth Secretariat said that they will continue to work closely t with the Government of Rwanda as host government, to ensure that they reach a satisfactory arrangement for the rescheduling of CHOGM in Kigali when the conditions allow.
“I want to thank the Government and people of Rwanda for their professionalism, support, patience and their impeccable readiness to hold CHOGM,” Scotland said.
Rwanda was however ready to host the summit going by assessments led by Patricia Scotland, as well Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, the UK Minister of State for the Commonwealth who have both visited the country to review the planning process.
Beyond the preparation of the sites to host the summit, the country was found to have stood out with regard to Covid-19 preventive measures to limit transmission.
Among the measures include a coordinated vaccination plan, testing and monitoring international arrivals, tracking and treatment of confirmed cases among others.