Sharma and Manning discussed CHOGM preparations at the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Marlborough House in London on April 6. Commonwealth Secretariat officials yesterday said they were impressed with this country’s staging of the summit and expected both men to discuss plans to ensure the November meeting is equally successful. They said the secretary general may also look at arrangements for the business, youth and people’s fora which will precede the meeting.
Government expects to once again utilise the 600 strong Caricom force which provided additional security support during the summit.
This number will be higher for CHOGM, as 52 leaders and their delegations are expected for the meeting. As head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II traditionally opens the CHOGM. Other Commonwealth leaders expected in November are British PM Gordon Brown, Canadian PM Stephen Harper, who attended the summit, and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zadari, husband of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated on December 27, 2007.
Officials at the National Secretariat, which coordinated preparations for the summit, said work for CHOGM is already underway, although the staff has been “scaled down” until November.
Downtown Owners and Merchants Association president Gregory Aboud has appealed to Government to plan properly for CHOGM since it will take place at the height of the Christmas season. He has even suggested that some CHOGM events be held in Tobago, to boost the island’s tourism-dependent economy.