Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday June 23, 2022
Rwanda is a brutal, repressive regime. Holding the Commonwealth summit there is a sham
Back when I was a reporter based in Africa in the 1990s, there were two organisations whose meetings regularly took place amid widespread media indifference: the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the Commonwealth.
There were solid reasons for our lack of enthusiasm. Such get-togethers were strong on pomp and rigmarole, but the interesting decisions usually took place behind closed doors. Both organisations were widely seen as little more than dictators’ clubs, attuned to the interests of ruling elites while aloof from the millions of citizens they nominally represented.
The Commonwealth heads of government meeting (Chogm) in Kigali, Rwanda this week will do nothing to challenge those assumptions.
Held in a country primed to receive Britain’s unwanted migrants – a deal that even Prince Charles, who will be chairing for the first time, apparently regards as “appalling” – the meeting will highlight the weaknesses of the organisation on which Britain is pinning its hopes of future global relevance.
In the run-up to the EU referendum, Brexiters talked up the benefits of ditching the EU in favour of a market that – thanks to the vastness of Britain’s defunct empire – holds 2.5 billion consumers, a third of the global population. And, since Brexit, it is true that free-trade agreements have been signed with Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, while a host of other deals are being negotiated with members of the 54-nation association.