By IGNATIUS SSUUNA – Associated Press
KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — Commonwealth leaders will meet in Rwanda on Friday at a summit that promises to tackle climate change, tropical diseases and other challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The summit for Commonwealth heads of state in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, is the culmination of a series of rallies earlier this week that reported some success in efforts to save the lives of people in the 54-nation bloc, which is home to 2.5 million people. , to improve. billion people.
Those numbers are set to rise with the expected admission into the Commonwealth of the African nations of Togo and Gabon, who have asked to join the bloc despite having no colonial history with Britain. The Commonwealth is mostly made up of former British colonies, but countries like Mozambique and Rwanda – a former Belgian colony with an Anglophile leader – have made successful bids in the past to join the group of which Queen Elizabeth II is the titular head.
Rwanda’s host of the summit has been controversial with some citing the East African country’s poor human rights record under Paul Kagame, an authoritarian leader who has been de facto leader or president since the 1994 genocide. Other critics include dissatisfied with what they see as an illegal and cruel deal with Britain to transfer migrants thousands of miles to Rwanda. That agreement faces legal hurdles and the first group of migrants has yet to arrive in Rwanda.
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World leaders attending the summit in Kigali range from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose Conservative party leadership suffered an overnight blow when voters rejected the party’s candidates in two special elections, is also in Rwanda.
Prince Charles represents his mother, who at the age of 96 is limiting her official duties.
Other meetings on the sidelines of the summit have reported some success in tackling pressing issues such as controlling climate change and combating deadly diseases.
More than $4 billion was pledged on Thursday to support global efforts to accelerate the fight against malaria and other neglected tropical diseases. The money comes from governments, philanthropists and others in the private sector. In addition, pharmaceutical companies have donated 18 billion tablets to prevent and treat those diseases.
Observers say the fundraising marks a major breakthrough as malaria is a major killer in Africa.
dr. Francisca Olamiju, the head of a non-governmental organization in Nigeria that stands up for the poor, told the AP she had high hopes for such a large gathering to bolster campaigns against tropical diseases.
World leaders need to “speak” and mobilize more resources for the cause, she said.
The summit also calls for more climate action ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Egypt later this year.
Commonwealth leaders will adopt the long-awaited “Living Lands Charter,” an action plan to address climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss. The charter aims to achieve climate goals through a combination of policy influence, funding, technical assistance, governance and knowledge sharing between countries.
Commonwealth governments have been asked to submit their emissions reduction targets by September 23.
About 32 Commonwealth members are small states, 25 of which are small islands and developing countries classified as vulnerable to climate change.
Associated Press writer Rodney Muhumuza contributed to this report from Kampala, Uganda.
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