Non-English speaking Commonwealth of Gabon and Togo: ‘A world full of opportunity’

Togo’s foreign minister spoke with similar effect to the AFP news agency. “Togo’s membership is motivated by a desire to expand its diplomatic, political and economic network and to be closer to the English-speaking world.”

Restoration of relations with Britain also meant deliberately distancing oneself from France. A Togo political scientist told AFP that French influence in Togo was often blamed for the country’s economic problems. “Joining the Commonwealth is better for many people than sharing the French language and culture, which ultimately fails to promote development,” he said.

Close relationship with VK

Rwanda’s membership comes at a time of great tension between Kigali and Paris. France is accused of supporting the Rwandan government, which was responsible for orchestrating the 1994 genocide of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The country severed diplomatic ties with France in 2006 after a French judge accused Rwandan President Kagame and several officials of killing former President Habyarimana.

The East African nation has forged close ties with Britain after its entry into the Commonwealth. A recent example is the controversial migrant agreement made this year. The UK wants to send asylum seekers to Rwanda so they can await their asylum procedures there.

Rwanda will receive £120 million from the UK to participate in the plan. Yesterday, Prime Minister Johnson declined to say whether the money had been paid, but he said he believed the plan would “deliver value for money”.

Astrid Marshman

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