[LIVE] Commonwealth heads of government gather at MCC for opening ceremony

New secretary-general of the Commonwealth to be announced today • CHOGM executive session in the afternoon

Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat arrive for the CHOGM summit. Photo: Chris Mangion
Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat arrive for the CHOGM summit. Photo: Chris Mangion
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with his wife Sophie Grégoire. Photo: Chris Mangion
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with his wife Sophie Grégoire. Photo: Chris Mangion
UK Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Michelle Muscat
UK Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Michelle Muscat
Prince Charles with his wife Princess Camilla. Photo: Chris Mangion
Prince Charles with his wife Princess Camilla. Photo: Chris Mangion
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with his wife Lucy Turnbull. Photo: Chris Mangion
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with his wife Lucy Turnbull. Photo: Chris Mangion
Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari. Photo: Chris Mangion
Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari. Photo: Chris Mangion
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. Photo: Chris Mangion
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. Photo: Chris Mangion
Pakistani President Nawaz Sharif. Photo: Chris Mangion
Pakistani President Nawaz Sharif. Photo: Chris Mangion

The first working session of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is taking place today at the Radisson Golden Sands Hotel, following the morning's opening ceremony at the Mediterranean Conference Centre.

The leaders were welcomed by the outgoing Commonwealth secretary-general Kamalesh Sharma, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and spouse Michelle Muscat among others.

Children escorted the leaders into the room, serving as a reminder that all the decisions taken during the meetings, or the lack thereof, will have a direct effect on future generations.

The Queen spoke of her pride and privilege in witnessing “the transformation” of the Commonwealth.

“This progress was not a foregone conclusion. The Commonwealth is an association underscored by values. Progress means that these values should be put into practice,” she said, expressing her “enormous pride” in what the Commonwealth has achieved.

She announced the launch of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy with the aim of “harnessing collective expertise” and protect the world’s forests.

The opening ceremony saw the coming together of some 360 artists, including tenor Joseph Calleja, providing the audience with a mix of visual and performing arts.

The Queen then departed for San Anton Palace where she will greet the newly elected leaders of Commonwealth countries, including Canada’s Justin Trudeau.

The leaders gathered for the biennial meeting will also select the new sixth secretary-general for the 53-member association.

The candidates are Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, who has served two terms as Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat from 2008-2014 where she was responsible for senior oversight of the political, human rights, legal and youth portfolio of the Secretariat’s work;

Sir Ronald Sanders, currently Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador Extraordinary, who allegedly was named by an investigator for receiving almost $1.4 millionfrom an alleged fraud against Antigua’s government. His lawyers say their client had “conducted himself with due propriety” in “all his financial dealings”, The Telegraph reports.

The third candidate is Baroness Patricia Scotland, who held the position of Attorney General in Britain. According to The Guardian, Scotland has emerged as a frontrunner in the race to become the Commonwealth’s next secretary general.

 Her candidacy was supported by the island of Dominica where she was born.

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