Britain’s Queen Elizabeth kicks off 25th CHOGM, Bangladesh PM joins

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LONDON, April 19, 2018 (BSS) – Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
joins the heads of governments Commonwealth nations as Queen Elizabeth-
II opened their 25th summit welcoming the leaders to “my own home” at
Buckingham Palace.

London hosts the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) for the
first time in 20 years, a move seen as a chance for Britain to reconnect with
its former colonies and revitalise the loose alliance of Commonwealth
countries ahead of Brexit.

“Commonwealth is growing stronger year by year . . . I believe we’ll
secure a safer and more prosperous and sustainable world for the future
generation,” the Queen said while declaring open the meet with its theme
being “Towards a Common Future”.

Issues to feature the 53-member grouping’s two-day summit include ocean
conservation, cyber security, trade, plastic waste issue and the Queen’s
successor as the Commonwealth head while Elizabeth backed her son Prince
Charles to take on her role in the Commonwealth.

“It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer
stability and continuity for future generations and will decide that one day
the Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father
in 1949,” the queen said at the formal opening of the event.

Downing Street earlier said a decision on whether Charles should succeed
his mother as Commonwealth head was expected from the heads of the member
states on Friday while media reports suggest the mood was that Charles will
get their backing.

Prince Charles, British Premier Theresa May and Commonwealth Secretary
General Patricia Scotland QC also addressed the opening event that began amid
a spectacle of pomp and pageantry with a guard of honour and flag bearers
displaying the flags of the member states.

More than 100 officers and soldiers from the Coldstream Guards offered
the honour guard, wearing their famous scarlet tunics and bearskins,
alongside the Band and Corps of Drums.

Following the opening, the Commonwealth leaders are to participate in
three executive sessions at Lancaster House.

The Commonwealth leaders will later attend the official reception to be
hosted by British Premier Theresa May and Commonwealth Secretary General
Patricia Scotland QC at the Lancaster House while they would join another
reception of the Commonwealth secretary general at St James Palace in the
afternoon.

Besides, the summit will give special attention to the areas of
prosperity, security, fairness and sustainability to achieve the goals of
Commonwealth countries.

The position of Commonwealth Chair-in-office, held by the government leader
of the CHOGM host country, will be transferred at the summit from the Prime
Minister of Malta Dr Joseph Muscat to British premier May who will hold the
post until the 26th CHOGM expected in 2020.

The 25th CHOGM which was originally to be hosted by Vanuatu at the end of
2017, but the UK eventually appeared to be the host as devastating cyclone Pam
damaged the Pacific island nation’s infrastructure.

The Commonwealth leaders joined in their first CHOGM in 1971 in Singapore
while the last one was hosted by Malta in 2015 as the summit is held once
every two years in member states on rotation basis but this pattern has
twice been interrupted so far.