Perth, Australia – 28 October 2011

President Kagame today said that Rwanda is pleased to be part of the Commonwealth and to contribute to the organisation as it adapts in the face of new global challenges. Speaking at opening ceremony of the 21st Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, where Rwanda was officially welcomed as the newest member, President Kagame thanked Commonwealth members for the support extended to Rwanda during its admission in 2009.

President Kagame noted that Rwandans shared the values and principles that have shaped the Commonwealth and pledged Rwanda’s support to collective efforts to make the organisation stronger and more dynamic;

“Our citizens know from experience that peace, security, and equal opportunities for all –including gender equality – are important pillars of good governance and a strong basis for socio-economic development. We also believe that when we work together, we win together. The economic and political challenges that the global community has witnessed recently provide more than enough evidence regarding the degree of our interdependence.”

President Kagame also pointed out that Rwanda was happy to associate with the Commonwealth aspirations of mutual respect and understanding which supports cooperation and partnership framed by fair rules that are equally applicable to all.

Queen Elizabeth, celebrating her 60th anniversary as the Head of the Commonwealth, said that almost a decade after the last CHOGM was held in Australia, new challenges exist and member states must remain steadfast and rise to the occasion in order to provide long lasting solutions to these common challenges;

“The theme this year is, ‘Women as Agents of Change’. It reminds us of the potential in our societies that is yet to be fully unlocked, and it encourages us to find ways to allow all girls and women to play their full part. We must continue to strive in our own countries and across the Commonwealth together to promote that theme in a lasting way beyond this year”.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia said that the meeting was a fitting moment for reflection and renewal as it marks the 80th anniversary of the Commonwealth and urged fellow CHOGM members to consider it a call to action;

“How do we best pursue our timeless values in a world of change? Let us make CHOGM 2011 memorable for answering this question. Memorable for being the Meeting that gave the Commonwealth the direction it needed at a time of global uncertainty and risk. In so doing, we will be faithful to our values, and faithful to the people who have sent us here. “

Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, described the importance of CHOGM to its citizens;

“CHOGMs have also become the occasion to bring together in celebration the full breadth of our Commonwealth community. All can serve our three aspirations of Democracy, Development and Diversity. And in offering global wisdom and value, we must continue to strive for equity, especially for the rights and causes of the small and the vulnerable, and in the service of our people”.

Over the next two days President Kagame will take part in closed working sessions with other Heads of Government during which they will deliberate over the CHOGM agenda.

The reading of the final communiqué this Sunday will mark the end of the 2011 CHOGM meeting.