The Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, QC, has been bestowed with the Commander of the Gabonese National Order of Merit (Commandeur de l’Ordre National du Merite Gabonais) – one of the country’s highest honours awarded to both Gabonese and foreign nationals.
The Honour, which was created in 1971, was presented to the Secretary-General following an audience with the President of Gabon, H.E. Ali Bongo Ondimba, at the President’s Office in Libreville.
Speaking shortly after receiving the Honour, the Secretary-General said:
“It was a great surprise and an extraordinary honour to be made today a Commander of the Gabonese Republic. It was something that I had no idea was going to happen and has touched me deeply.
Gabon is the latest member to join our wonderful family of nations, making us now 56 member states - the largest number we have ever had.
And the speed with which Gabon was able to fulfil all the criteria to enable Gabon to join us has been truly remarkable. Their dedication and their commitment to being part of our family is quite inspiring.
This is my first visit to Gabon and it is one that I will always remember, not least by virtue of it being marked in this quite extraordinary way. I want to thank the president of Gabon and the people of Gabon for welcoming me and making me feel so much at home and so Gabonese.”
Welcoming Gabon to the Commonwealth Family
The Secretary-General is in Gabon this week for her first official visit to the country since it joined the Commonwealth on 25 June 2022. As one of the Commonwealth’s newest members, the four-day visit will see the Secretary-General and her delegation hold a series of meetings with senior government officials to explore areas where the Commonwealth Secretariat can serve and support the Government and people of Gabon in advancing shared values and goals.
Earlier during her audience with the President, the two leaders discussed a wide range of issues on cooperation and partnerships between the Commonwealth Secretariat and Gabon, and also how the country can benefit from and participate in critical discussions with the Commonwealth family. President Ali Bongo on his part thanked the Secretary-General for her leadership and guidance throughout their membership application process and briefed her on the priorities and efforts of his government, which include areas such as education, health, young people, trade and capacity-building.
Congratulating the people and government of Gabon on their recent accession to the Commonwealth, the Secretary-General formally presented President Ali Bongo with a copy of the Commonwealth Charter, signed by Her Majesty The Queen in 2013, which commits Gabon to the values and aspirations of the Commonwealth family.
On the occasion, it was announced that an official flag-raising ceremony will take place this autumn at the Commonwealth Headquarters in London, Marlborough House, formally welcoming Gabon to the Commonwealth of Nations.
Earlier on 17 August, the Secretary-General was a special guest of the President at the official 62nd Anniversary of the country’s independence, held in Gabon’s capital, Libreville.
Among the guests were the First Lady of Gabon, H.E. Sylvia Bongo Ondimba, the President of Senegal, H.E. Sally Mack, representatives of the diplomatic community, and senior government officials.
- Angela Kolongo Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
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