CHOGM gets underway in Malta
VALLETTA the capital city of Malta, the small island nation came alive and wore a rather colourful outlook on Friday as the 24th Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) got underway. The opening climaxed the several months of preparation for the events.
The opening, which took place at the Mediterranean Conference Centre ((MCC) in the city amidst tight security had attendance most of the leaders of the group, notably the Queen Elizabeth Ii of England, her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip; her son, Prince of Wales, Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cromwell, Camilla Parker Bowles, British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron and Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari among others.
It also afforded the British monarch to reminisced on her life, marriage and life as a young princess, who was newly married to a Philip, a young Naval officer serving in Malta.
Kamalesh Karma, the out-going Secretary-General of Commonwealth; Joseph Muscat Prime Minister of the host country and out-going Chairperson of Commonwealth and Sri Lankan President, Maithriplala Sirisena and their spouses were on hand to welcome the visiting heads of states/governments and their representatives into an expansive hall.
The Nigerian leader arrived the venue at exactly 9.53 am, four minutes ahead of British royal couple, who arrived at 9.57 am. Their arrivals were quickly followed by speeches by the host Prime Minister; outgoing Scribe, out-going chairperson and the Queen, who is the Head of the Commonwealth.
In her speech to declare it the meeting open, the British monarch, 89, praised the accomplishments of the 53-member nation organisation since its formation, noting it had, to a large extent, helped in addressing the challenges of member states.
As expected the twin issues of terrorism and climate change formed the crux of discussions at the opening event. Also, a new Secretary-General of the Organisation was expected to be elected.
After the opening ceremony at the Mediterranean Conference Centre and brief closed session, the leaders retreated to the Radisson Blu Golden Sands to continue their deliberations and subsequent election of the new Scribe.