Commonwealth meeting attendence hits an all time low

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Kampala, Nov 23(UNI) The relevance of the Commonwealth came under question again this time as barely 21 out of 53 heads of the state participated in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting(CHOGM) here today.

The summit, which has been overshadowed by suspension of Pakistan, is not being attended by leaders of many Asian and African nations. However, most of these countries are represented by senior ministers at the summit.

Today's summit got underway with the inaugural address of Queen Elizabeth.

From South Asia, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh represented India and President Mahinda Rajapaksa represented Sri Lanka. India has the largest contingent at the summit.

Maldives President Mamoon Abdul Gayoom is also not attending the summit because of elections in his country. Australian Prime Minister John Howard was also absent as his country was going to the polls on Sunday. St Lucia leader also abstained due to pressing political issues at home.

This was perhaps the smallest gathering at the CHOGM, a forum of rich as well as poor nations. Rich members like Britain, Canada and Australia are ready to share their expertise and technology with other members of the Commonwealth, especially Africa.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, South African President Thambi Mbeki, Nigerian President Umara Musa and Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badwai were the other leaders attending the summit. Only female leader Premier Helen Clark of New Zealand was also present at the summit.

UNI

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