Togo and Gabon to become newest members of Commonwealth this week

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Prince Charles - SIMON WOHLFAHRT
Prince Charles - SIMON WOHLFAHRT

Togo and Gabon are set to join the Commonwealth this week, becoming the latest countries to join despite having no historic ties to Britain.

It is the first time that new nations have joined in more than a decade, and the first time since 1995 that two have joined at once.

The two west African countries will follow Rwanda and Mozambique as the third and fourth countries to join the Commonwealth's ranks without having ever been under Britain’s rule. Gabon is a former French colony while Togo used to be under German rule.

Their admission is due to be formally announced this week at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in Rwanda.

The Prince of Wales arrived in Kigali, the capital city, on Tuesday where he will represent the Queen, who is head of the Commonwealth.

Prince Charles spent a full day visiting the Genocide Memorial in Rwanda where he toured the museum - Chris Jackson
Prince Charles spent a full day visiting the Genocide Memorial in Rwanda where he toured the museum - Chris Jackson

He will be joined by the Prime Minister on Thursday morning at the summit, which will feature a series of events and discussions between the leaders of the 54 Commonwealth members.

But the Government’s flagship migrant policy - under which illegal immigrants are forcibly deported to Rwanda - threatens to overshadow the event.

The Prince of Wales reportedly told friends privately he was “appalled” by the plan and said that he was “more than disappointed” by it.

Mr Johnson and Prince Charles are due to hold a "bilateral discussion" during the summit, which will be their first exchange since the future king's remarks on the policy were leaked to the press.

Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie will also visit Rwanda this week, and he will join Prince Charles at Thursday's summit - Frank Augustein
Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie will also visit Rwanda this week, and he will join Prince Charles at Thursday's summit - Frank Augustein

Clarence House has confirmed that the Prince has no plans to visit the accommodation centre in Kigali which will house immigrants when they arrive from the UK.

Instead, he spent a full day visiting the Genocide Memorial where he toured the museum and lay a wreath, followed by a trip to the Mbyo reconciliation village where he met survivors and perpetrators of the Genocide.

During his time in Kigali he will also attend the Chogm opening ceremony and host a dinner for the heads of Government.

It is understood that his programme has been drawn up to reflect the wishes of the Rwandan government and he is also obliged to steer clear of anything that could be perceived as party political.

Prince could be asked about migrant policy

Clarence House has not completely ruled out the Prince making a reference to the controversial policy and is aware he could be asked about it during a series of private bilateral meetings.

And the Prime Minister, who will be accompanied on the trip by his wife Carrie Johnson, will not visit the centre either, with his official spokesman explaining that his "time is limited".

Prince Charles and Camilla laid a wreath during a visit to the Kigali Memorial for Victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide - Chris Jackson
Prince Charles and Camilla laid a wreath during a visit to the Kigali Memorial for Victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide - Chris Jackson

"We think that the best use of his time for this short period he is in Rwanda is to dedicate himself to some of the issues or be raised at the summit," Downing Street said.

Last week the European Court of Human Rights intervened to block the first flight of migrants from taking off to Rwanda.

In a last-minute intervention, the European court halted the flight with four of the seven asylum seekers already having boarded after it backed a legal challenge by one of them, a 54-year-old Iraqi, known as KN, who came to Britain by small boat less than a month ago.

The court’s injunction blocked the deportation until at least three weeks after a judicial review next month had decided whether the Government’s Rwanda policy was lawful. His case had previously been rejected by the UK’s high court, court of appeal and supreme court.

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