KIGALI, Rwanda 

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2021) will be held in Rwanda in June, as coronavirus infection appears to slow in the East African nation, an official said Friday. 

Secretary-General Patricia Scotland told reporters in the capital of Kigali that the group was impressed by the level of preparedness undertaken by Rwanda to host the meeting which was initially postponed in 2020 because of the onset of the pandemic.

“I think we have all gone through a very difficult period in the last year, a period of darkness, a period of concern, where our lives and our livelihoods have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic,” she said. “So, it is with fresh enthusiasm that we look forward to an opportunity when we can come together as a Commonwealth family of nations, to consider how we can respond to the challenges that have been sent to us, not just by the pandemic or by the climate change but also the economic fallout that it has brought.”

Scotland’s remarks came at the climax of a three-day visit to Rwanda to assess its readiness to host the meeting.

She underlined the need for CHOGM delegates to devise solutions through multilateral cooperation and mutual support in the face of current global challenges such as climate change.

“I want to thank Rwanda or to thank particularly the president for his strong support of our Commonwealth family and the determination to make sure that in June we have the best Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting,” she said.

Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta said the country remained committed to organizing a safe and successful event.

“The global COVID-19 crisis has deeply shown an urgent need for solidarity and importance of having a more concerted approach in addressing the current challenges and being ready for the future ones,” he said.

Even if the pandemic remains, the distribution of vaccines globally gives a positive outlook for coming months in line with the COVID-19 response, he said.

President Paul Kagame has said the meeting will be an exceptional occasion to deliberate on the enormous technological, ecological and economic challenges and opportunities facing the Commonwealth — particularly the countries’ young people, who “are all the more pressing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Rwanda had recorded 20,057 coronavirus infections, with 18,361 recoveries and 275 deaths as of Thursday.

The Commonwealth brings together 54 independent countries, mainly former British colonies.

CHOGM is customarily held every two years and is the Commonwealth’s highest consultative and policy-making gathering.

Its leaders selected Rwanda as host for its next summit at a meeting in London in 2018.

Rwanda is the youngest member of the Commonwealth community with a population of 2.4 billion.

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