Coming together

Commonwealth summit opens in Rwanda amid feuds over leadership and refugees

By Jaysim Hanspal

Premium badge Reserved for subscribers

Posted on June 21, 2022 16:03

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda
Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP)

Political leaders from across the English-speaking world gather in Kigali this week for the first time since the pandemic to try to forge a common path forward. Instead of a show of unity, however, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is marked by a power struggle over who should lead the 54-member group and a global outcry over the British government’s policy of deporting refugees to Rwanda.

The summit runs from 20 June to 25 June under the theme ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’. However, that future got a lot more cloudy when Jamaica announced in April that its minister of foreign affairs, Kamina Johnson Smith, was challenging the incumbent, Baroness Patricia Scotland, for the post of Secretary-General.

A former Attorney General for England and Wales, the Baroness was born in Dominica and is eligible for another four-year term. She was the first woman to assume the role, taking up her post in 2016.

Scotland faced controversy early on in her role, branded by the British media as “Baroness Brazen” after refurbishments to the Secretary-General’s flat totalled £338,000. Other scandals include hiring an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper and whispers of corruption as she gave a consultancy contract to an old friend.

Jamaica’s decision

There's more to this story

Get unlimited access to our exclusive journalism and features today. Our award-winning team of correspondents and editors report from over 54 African countries, from Cape Town to Cairo, from Abidjan to Abuja to Addis Ababa. Africa. Unlocked.

Subscribe Now

cancel anytime