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Commonwealth postpones heads of government meeting due to COVID-19

Commonwealth postpones heads of government meeting due to COVID-19

Commonwealth leaders attend the executive session of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London on Apr 19, 2018. (Tolga AKMEN/AFP)

LONDON: A Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting scheduled to take place in the Rwandan capital Kigali in June has been postponed due to COVID-19, the organisation said on Tuesday (Apr 21).

A new date for the event, which takes place every two years, would be announced in due course, the body's London-based secretariat said in a statement.

The last CHOGM was held in the United Kingdom in 2018.

The Commonwealth, which is made up mainly of former British colonies comprising 54 countries and 2.4 billion people, last month said it was keeping the situation under review as the outbreak took hold.

But General-Secretary Patricia Scotland said the pandemic had "changed the course of our modern history", as government across the world grapple to stem its spread.

"We must be mindful of the risks large meetings pose to all. The current circumstances require historic decisions," she added, pledging full support for all countries affected.

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame said: "We look forward to welcoming the Commonwealth family to Kigali for CHOGM once the pandemic has been defeated."

Kagame's government was one of the first in Africa to impose full lockdowns to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Politicians and top civil servants also had their salaries redirected to help people hit by the economic impact of the shutdown.

Africa has 23,251 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,161 deaths, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources.

Rwanda has had 147 positive cases but no deaths.

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Source: AFP/de

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