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This is what CHOGM is all about

By Vision Reporter

Added 15th November 2007 03:00 AM

IF it was a Social Studies question for a pupil, Commonwealth countries are the former colonies of the Great Britain.
However, that would be an understatement to describe the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) whose activities start today.

IF it was a Social Studies question for a pupil, Commonwealth countries are the former colonies of the Great Britain.
However, that would be an understatement to describe the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) whose activities start today.

By Henry Mukasa

IF it was a Social Studies question for a pupil, Commonwealth countries are the former colonies of the Great Britain.
However, that would be an understatement to describe the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) whose activities start today.

The summit is a ‘meeting of great minds’. In other words, a global think-tank.
The principles for which the 53 nations stand have attracted Cameroon and Mozambique, which are former French and Portuguese colonies, respectively.

Rwanda, another former French colony, is knocking on the door for admission.
CHOGM was last held in Malta in 2005.

Pre-summit activities:
CHOGM, the summit held every two years, brings together members to discuss pertinent issues that are of mutual interest and exist globally.

Before the heads of government convene, (November 23-26), other events take place to build the momentum.
They are the Youth Forum, the Business Forum, the People’s Forum and the Foreign Affairs Ministers’ meeting.

The youth forum:
November 14-21
The Commonwealth Youth Forum opens today at the Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel, Entebbe. Its theme is “Breaking barriers; unleashing young people’s potential for development.”

“We know that the youths have a high potential to change Uganda. That is why we chose that theme,” says Syda Bbumba, the gender minister.

The forum will last for seven days unlike the previous ones which lasted only two or three days. “We consider youths to be the future of Uganda. We need to get them to learn more about leadership.

This is why their forum will last for seven days,” Bbumba adds. Unlike other countries which will have two representatives, Uganda has 25 delegates.

Three opposition parties; the Uganda People’s Congress, the Democratic Party and the Forum for Democratic Change are each represented by one delegate, while the ruling NRM party has two representatives.

Two youth MPs; Dennis Obua and Mariam Nalubega are representing Parliament, while the National Youth Council has four delegates.

The Uganda Joint Christian Council and the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council and the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda each sent one delegate. The Uganda Youth Network, an umbrella body of all youth NGOs, has two representatives.
President Yoweri Museveni will open the forum.

The UN under-secretary general and the executive director of the UN Habitat, Dr. Ann Tibaijuka, will be the keynote speaker.

Participants will discuss issues ranging from sustainable development and climate change, opportunities for young entrepreneurs to conflict management and social transformation.

They will also brainstorm on health, alcohol and drug abuse.
The delegates will also take part in skills-building training workshops, visit the Wildlife Education Centre and the Botanical Gardens in Entebbe, and tour Mabira Forest, Jinja and the Source of the Nile.

Entertainment and cultural presentations will be available in the evenings and culminate into a cultural extravaganza on Monday (November 19).

The conference will be closed by Vice-President Prof. Gilbert Bukenya, in the presence of the Commonwealth Secretary General, Donald McKinnon.

The people’s forum:
November 18-22
The Commonwealth People’s Forum is the centre of dynamism and attraction in the two weeks’ event.
Like their youthful colleagues, the delegates will visit several places of interest.

Apart from the splendour and pageantry that comes with the arrival of the Queen, the activism at the event draws most attention. Lobby groups, non-government organisations and trade union activists voice out their demands at the forum.

Under the theme “Realising People’s Potential”, the forum will focus on issues like communications for climate security, energy, sustainable livelihoods, good governance, human rights, financing of development and education as a tool of HIV prevention.

Hotel Africana will be the venue for this event that will also have the people’s space, where various items will be exhibited and demonstrations including a rock music concert.

Local artistes led by Ragga Dee will hold a mega concert dubbed: ‘bring the noise’, at Lugogo Cricket Oval on November 20.
The Ugandan artistes will partner counterparts from; Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and the UK to bring “noise” to the audience.
The British Council has set up a people’s blog (http://peoplesforum.britishcouncil.org), while a “Wall of Greatness”, a monument of thought and experience stands in the people’s space for citizens to record their impressions of CHOGM activities, according to British Council director, Richard Weyers.

The business forum:
November 19-22
To be graced by some of the best business brains in the world, this forum will be a hotbed for enterpreneual discussions.

Presidents of firms, bankers, multinational corporations’ chief executive officers and business moguls will discuss trends in trade, mergers, partnerships and market access.

The business csars will also tackle issues of globalisation, environment, energy and social investment.
Access to commonwealth markets, infrastructure development, corporate governance, Information technology, tourism and education links with private sector, will also make it to the agenda.

In usual corporate style, these issues will be discussed over coffee, sumptous lunches and dinners at the Sheraton Hotel. It is also viewed as one of the best networking event.

Foreign affairs ministers’ meet:
November 21-22
The foreign affairs ministers refine the agenda for the summit. They will discuss contentious issues like the nagging Zimbabwe politics and state of affairs in Pakistan.

Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, withdrew his country from the Commonwealth bloc on December 8, 2003.
But activists believe ignoring happenings there is condemning citizens to more misery.

His country had been under suspension over political repression.
The public will also be watching whether Pakistani will go the Zimbabwe way.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) at a recent emergency sitting in London, gave Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistan leader, who declared a state of emergency on November 3, 10 days to restore the constitution or face suspension.

CHOGM
November 21-23
The arrival of the Queen, the head of the Commonwealth on November 21, will mark the beginning CHOGM.
On November 23, the Queen will open the summit at Serena Hotel before the leaders retreat to Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort to discuss issues, some of which will come from the forums.

President Yoweri Museveni, as host, chose the central theme: “Transforming Commonwealth Societies to achieve Political, Economic and Human Development”, for discussion.
At the end of the summit, a declaration stating standpoints for the Commonwealth will be issued.

If it is branded the “Kampala Declarations”, as its likely to be, then the country would have made its indelible mark on the history of the Commonwealth.

Basic facts
The Youth Forum, the Business Forum, the People’s Forum and the Foreign Affairs Ministers’ meeting will precede CHOGM

Unlike other countries which will have two representatives for the youth forum, Uganda will have 25.

Issues of sustainable development and climate change, opportunities for young entrepreneurs, conflict management and social transformation and health, alcohol and drug abuse will be discussed at the forums

Additional reporting by Joel Ogwang

This is what CHOGM is all about

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