Commonwealth leaders at the opening ceremony24 June: Commonwealth leaders and foreign ministers gather at the opening of their two-day meeting. [photo: YouTube]

The Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) opened in Kigali, Rwanda on Friday morning.

The leaders will take part in an executive session on Friday afternoon and their behind-closed-doors session on Saturday.

Here are some key quotes from the speakers at the opening ceremony and you can view the whole event below.

Rwandan Prime Minister Paul Kagame:

“We are united by a shared language. But what really defines us are the values enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter and the commitment to good governance, the rule of law and the protection of rights.”

“We shall always remain open to new voices and the new members. And whatever might fall short, we find solutions through consensus and dialogue. We build each other and we move forward together.”

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland:

“We must talk, and listen, to each other, and give all that we have to achieve progress for the 2.5 billion people we – you – represent. But here, in Rwanda, something else is at stake – something even more transformational. The world is changing. People are anxious.”

“I am determined that, when the role of secretary-general rotates to Africa two years from now, I will hand on the baton with a stronger, more effective, more powerful Commonwealth than ever before.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

“For all the differences between us, we are united by an invisible thread of shared values, history, and friendship.”

“The pandemic posed a common threat to all humanity. The same is true of catastrophic climate change. No-one understands this better than our Commonwealth friends in the Caribbean, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean.”

Prince Charles:

On republicanism:

The Commonwealth is a “free association of self-governing nations”.

“Each member’s constitutional arrangement, as republic or monarchy, is purely a matter for each member country to decide. The benefit of long life brings me the experience that arrangements such as these can change calmly and without rancour.”

On slavery:

“The roots of our contemporary association run deep into the most painful period of our history. I cannot describe the depths of my personal sorrow at the suffering of so many as I continue my own understanding of slavery’s enduring impact.”

“To unlock the power of our common future we must acknowledge the wrongs that happened in our past. Many of those belong to an earlier age with different and some ways lesser values. By working together we’re building a new and enduring friendship.”

View the opening ceremony:

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