Grenada Prime Minister (PM) Tillman Thomas was the first leader to arrive in the country on Monday. Barbados PM David Thompson and Papua New Guinea PM Sir Michale Thomas Somare also arrived on Tuesday.
Piarco International Airport was a beehive of activity yesterday as the Crown Prince of Brunei Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, Bahamas PM Hubert Ingraham, Malaysian PM Dato Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni arrived in quick succession. In fact, Museveni’s private jet arrived minutes after the Royal Brunei aircraft bearing the Crown Prince arrived at about 6 pm. Museveni waited aboard his aircraft while the Prince disembarked and was greeted on the tarmac by Social Development Minister Dr Amery Browne and Minister in the Ministry of Works and Transport Roger Joseph.
He was escorted down a red carpet lined on either side by members of the Coast Guard to a waiting sports utility vehicle which transported him to the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain, under the protection of a security detail on the ground. As the Prince’s convoy arrived in Port-of-Spain, a helicopter from the Special Anti Crime Unit maintained aerial surveillance.
Museveni received similar treatment when he alighted from his plane. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, Swaziland PM Dr Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini and Anguillan Chief Minister Osbourne Fleming were also expected to arrive last night.
On his arrival at the Hyatt last evening, Ingraham told Newsday, “It’s very good. It always feels good to be in Trinidad and I’m looking forward to the days to come.” Ingraham was expected to give the keynote address at a dinner aboard the Serenade of the Seas as part of the Commonwealth Business Forum.
A total of 22 Commonwealth leaders are due in the country today. New Zealand PM John Key, Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Saiele Malielegaoi, Tonga PM Dr Feleti Sevele, Vanuatu PM Edward Nipake Natapei and Kiribati PM Anote Tong will be arriving on board a New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757 jet.
Problems with the lights at Tonga’s International Airport yesterday, preventing the departure of commercial flights, prompted Key’s plane to divert there to pick up Sevele. A technical problem with the aircraft caused it to divert to Honolulu, Hawaii for repairs.