Commonwealth confirms receiving Zimbabwe's application to rejoin the bloc

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

On Monday, the Commonwealth of Nations Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, confirmed receipt of a formal request from Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa to re-join the bloc.

Zimbabwe, which had been a member of the Commonwealth since its independence from British rule in 1980, had its membership suspended in 2002 for a disputed presidential election as well as cases of land grabbing from white farmers. Then Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe withdrew the country from the bloc in 2003. Mugabe, who had been Zimbabwe's president since 1980, was overthrown by a de facto military coup in November 2017.

In the application letter dated May 9, President Mnangagwa invited officials of the Commonwealth to observe the general elections in Zimbabwe which are scheduled to take place in July. British foreign secretary Boris Johnson tweeted, "Zimbabwe must now show commitment to Commonwealth values of democracy and human rights".

Patrica Scotland said, "Zimbabwe's eventual return to the Commonwealth, following a successful membership application, would be a momentous occasion, given our shared rich history". Currently, there are 53 nations in the Commonwealth. Previously, Ireland and Maldives had left the group in 1949 and 2016 respectively. No country has joined the bloc since Rwanda joined in 2009. Four former British territories — South Africa, Pakistan, Fiji as well as Gambia have re-joined the Commonwealth after quitting. Gambia rejoined in February, after five years. The then-President of Gambia Yahya Jammeh had left the Commonwealth in 2013.