Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo got the ball rolling by expressing gratitude to his fellow heads of state for “the solidarity displayed” as they addressed the issues on the CHOGM agenda. “This is vital as we tackle the many challenges that we face,” Jagdeo said. Guyana’s president added that this CHOGM has inspired hope amongst the peoples of the Commonwealth and he urged his fellow leaders to continue their dialogue long after they left Port-of-Spain yesterday.
Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi admitted that before arriving in Port-of-Spain, he was concerned that climate change would “take the most time and divert attention from other issues.”
However, Malielegaoi said he was now convinced climate change “rightly required our close attention.” He thanked Prime Minister Patrick Manning for using a blend of “gentle persuasion and astute management” to forge consensus amongst leaders on a wide range of issues on the agenda. Malielegaoi said he throughly enjoyed the cultural presentation at the CHOGM opening ceremony and particularly the steel pan.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete hailed the Commonwealth’s decision to welcome Rwanda into its family. “Rwanda deserves it,” Kikwete said. He thanked Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, “for her words of wisdom” at the CHOGM opening and for continuing to be an inspiration to Commonwealth leaders.
“The people of Trinidad and Tobago have been wonderful. They made us feel right and home.
“They made our work very, very easy,” Kikwete said. Noting that this was the first CHOGM attended by non-Commonwealth leaders ( French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Denmark Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen and UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon), Kikwete said, “We got the results we expected.”
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said this was his first CHOGM and he was happy to be leaving TT having met “so many colleagues who I now call friends.” Rudd urged his fellow leaders “not to underestimate the strength of our institutions and our collective voice”. He hoped the Port-of-Spain Climate Change Consensus would serve as an example of what the Commonwealth could achieve on other issues such as security and political cooperation.
Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma said this CHOGM underscored the fact that “the Commonwealth has never been more relevant and needed as it is now.” SEE PAGE 13. Sharma said the Commonwealth’s chairmanship was in good hands over the next two years with TT. “The world will watch you now in these defining times,” Sharma told Manning.