International

Togo, Gabon Become 55th and 56th Commonwealth Members

Togo and Gabon have become the latest African countries to join the Commonwealth while having no historical links to Britain.

The move comes ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer and as debate rages on about the colonial legacy of the Monarchy and the Commonwealth as an old relic of the British Empire.

Gabon and Togo, which are both former French colonies, are the 55th and 56th members to join the club.

Officials accepted applications by the two west-African countries at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda after they both expressed voluntary interest in becoming members.

Mozambique joined the Commonwealth in 1995 followed by Rwanda who was the last country to become a member in 2009 despite having no historical ties to the British Empire.

Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, said: “The Commonwealth, which began as eight nations in 1949, is growing to 56. Our continued growth, beyond the scope of our history, reflects the advantages of Commonwealth membership and the strength of our association.

“I am thrilled to see these vibrant countries join the Commonwealth family and dedicate themselves to the values and aspirations of our Charter.”

Togo sits by the border of fellow Commonwealth nations Ghana, Benin and Burkina Faso with a population of 7.8 million people.

With a population of just two million people, Gabon borders Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo.

Both African countries gained independence from France in the 1960s, but the move is understood to be in line with easing their current reliance on the French and strengthening diplomatic relations.

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