The company CHOGM keeps (or fails to keep)

The summit is called the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit or CHOGM. And yet, there were lots of heads of government that didn't bother to show.

The single biggest country in the Commonwealth, India, where 1.2 billion of the Commonwealth's 2.1 billion people live, passed. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh begged off, saying he's old, and he's got the G20 summit in France next week and APEC in Hawaii almost right after that. Of course, as everyone in the Australian press has howled, no Indian PM has touched Australian soil in 25 years and this is just more evidence of how lousy Indian-Australian relations are right now.

OK, so you don't got India. You've got the prime ministers of Canada and the United Kingdom, right? What's that? They're leaving early? Oh dear. It seems UK Prime Minister David Cameron will be jetting back to Britain Saturday evening, a day before CHOGM officially ends on Sunday at about 2 pm Perth time. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was planning to stay and leave at 10 pm on Sunday night but, as the final communique from CHOGM will be signed and sealed some time late Saturday night, he's moved up his getaway time to noon on Sunday UPDATE: The work leaders came here to do is progressing much more slowly, PMO officials said Saturday night, and, as a result, Harper has reverted to his original plan which will him see stay right through the end of the summit.

And New Zealand's PM had to send regrets. Prime Minister John Key is in the middle of a writ period — a general election — and quite rightly has to stay home so he can win the right to come to more CHOGMs. (Key has actually been accused of not showing up here at CHOGM to hobnob with the Queen so he could hobnob instead with, er, hobbits.)

So when Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard looks around the table when she brings down the gavel tomorrow afternoon to close CHOGM 11, she will not see prime ministers from the United Kingdom, India, Canada, and New Zealand.

In addition to those, 17 members of the Commonwealth didn't even bother to send their head of government, dispatching,instead, foreign ministers, vice-presidents, or high commissioners.

All in: Just 35 of 54 Heads of Government attended this weekend's Heads of Government summit.

Queen Elizabeth II was here though! Though, she too, had to leave early, jetting back to England just after lunch on Saturday.


2 thoughts on “The company CHOGM keeps (or fails to keep)”

  1. “All in: Just 35 of 54 Heads of State attended this weekend Heads of State summit.”
    They are “Heads of Government”, important distinction in that it's CHOGM.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *