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AfricaMoney | August 22, 2017

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Mauritius bows out

Mauritius bows out, Malta to host next Commonwealth summit

In what could have important implications for the island economy, Mauritius has bowed out of organizing the Commonwealth summit in 2015 in protest over the human rights violations record of this year’s host, Sri Lanka. (Image: Department of Information, Malta)

In what could have important implications for the island economy, Mauritius has bowed out of organizing the Commonwealth summit in 2015 in protest over the human rights violations record of this year’s host, Sri Lanka.

To understand the importance of the Commonwealth summit for the host country, typically at every forum, the organizing country benefits the most. For the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) just concluded in Sri Lanka, a $2 billion ‘business opportunity’ had been projected for the host nation. And, at the last but one CBF in Perth, Australia in 2011, some $10 billion in deals were sealed for Australia.

For all those skeptics who say the Commonwealth classification is merely the legacy of an oppressive British rule and the segmentation has no current relevance, it may come as news that Commonwealth countries have extremely strong trade ties. Research has shown that trade flows within the Commonwealth countries amount to as much as two trillion dollars. So, an economic forum for Commonwealth countries is a great opportunity for the host nation to showcase itself, an opportunity that Mauritius has foregone as a champion of human rights.

Meanwhile, Malta’s Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, participated at the 2013 heads of government meeting and is understood to have proposed to host the meeting in two years’ time, after expected host Mauritius withdrew

This is only the second time that a Commonwealth country will be organizing two meetings for head of states in 10 years. Malta also hosted the meeting in 2005 when 52 countries attended for the meeting out of which 38 were represented by their Heads of State or Government.

The 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM), which ended yesterday, was held in Colombo, in Sri Lanka. Mauritian Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam boycotted the meeting in protest over alleged human rights abuses its defeat to the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009. Canada and India followed in the footsteps of the island economy. Altogether only 27 heads of government were present for the meeting, making it a poor show indeed.

While New Zealand had shown some initial interest, the decision to award the CHOGM to Malta was unanimous.

Countries normally have four years’ time to prepare to host CHOGM but Prime Minister Muscat said he was sure that Malta would rise to the occasion to host the event in two years’ time.

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