Commonwealth Chairman-in-Office

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Chairman-in-office of the
Commonwealth of Nations
Incumbent
Maithripala Sirisena

since 9 January 2015
Term length 2 years
Inaugural holder Thabo Mbeki
Formation 12 November 1999
Website Chair-in-Office

The Commonwealth Chairman-in-Office (CIO) is the Chairman-in-Office of the Commonwealth of Nations, and is one of the main leadership positions in the Commonwealth. It is held by the host chairman of the previous Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), and is maintained until the next CHOGM.

The primary responsibility of the Chairman-in-Office is to host the CHOGM, but their roles can be expanded. For example, after the 2002 CHOGM, the incumbent, previous, and next Chairmen-in-Office formed a troika in an attempt to resolve the ongoing dispute over Zimbabwe's membership of the Commonwealth.[1]

The position was created after the 1999 CHOGM, with Thabo Mbeki becoming the first Chairman-in-Office. However, Mbeki did very little to develop the position, leaving it virtually vacant until the next CHOGM, in 2002, when the troika was created.[1] Even after John Howard became Chairman, the troika's first meeting was in London, in the presence of the Commonwealth Secretary-General, whose office drafted the troika's statement: leaving little role for the troika itself, but potentially increasing the power of the Secretary-General.[1] The third Chairman, Olusegun Obasanjo, did more to invigorate the role of the position after taking over in 2003.[2]

Since the assumption of the role at the 2009 CHOGM, representatives from Trinidad and Tobago, including the Prime Ministers, have attended Commonwealth meetings, including 2011 Commonwealth Day celebrations where Persad-Bissessar, the first female to chair the Commonwealth, gave the keynote address. Trinidad and Tobago is also slated to host the much anticipated Commonwealth Economic Forum in 2011.

As Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard succeeded Persad-Bissessar as the second female Chairman at the 2011 CHOGM. Julia Gillard was in-turn succeeded by Kevin Rudd after resigning as Prime Minister of Australia on 27 June 2013. Rudd went on to lose the Australian federal election in September 2013, and was subsequently succeeded by the new prime minister Tony Abbott. Abbott remained in the position until Commonwealth leaders met for the 23rd time on 15 November 2013, where he was succeeded by the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was succeeded by Maithripala Sirisena in 2015.[3]

List of Chairman-in-Office[edit]

Elizabeth II (1999–present)[edit]

# Name Country Title CHOGM Start End
1 Thabo Mbeki South Africa South Africa President 1999 12 November 1999 2 March 2002
2 John Howard Australia Australia Prime Minister 2002 2 March 2002 5 December 2003
3 Olusegun Obasanjo Nigeria Nigeria President 2003 5 December 2003 25 November 2005
4 Lawrence Gonzi Malta Malta Prime Minister 2005 25 November 2005 23 November 2007
5 Yoweri Museveni Uganda Uganda President 2007 23 November 2007 27 November 2009
6 Patrick Manning[4] Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister 2009 27 November 2009 25 May 2010[4]
7 Kamla Persad-Bissessar[5] None[5] 26 May 2010[5] 28 October 2011
8 Julia Gillard Australia Australia Prime Minister 2011 28 October 2011 27 June 2013
9 Kevin Rudd None 27 June 2013 18 September 2013
10 Tony Abbott None 18 September 2013 15 November 2013
11 Mahinda Rajapaksa Sri Lanka Sri Lanka President 2013 15 November 2013 9 January 2015
12 Maithripala Sirisena None 9 January 2015 Incumbent

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs /". Wikipedia article. 
  2. ^ Ingram, Derek (January 2004). "Abuja Notebook". The Round Table 93 (373): pp. 7–10. doi:10.1080/0035853042000188157. 
  3. ^ President will be C' wealth Chairman for next two years - GL
  4. ^ a b Staff writer (28 May 2010). "Former Trinidad PM Manning resigns as political leader". CaribbeanNetNews. Retrieved 29 May 2010. Trinidad and Tobago's former prime minister Patrick Manning has handed in his resignation as political leader of the People's National Movement (PNM), three days after being defeated at the polls. 
  5. ^ a b c Staff writer (29 May 2010). "Kamla now Commonwealth Chair". Trinidad and Tobago Newsday. Retrieved 29 May 2010. The position she has inherited from former prime minister Patrick Manning following the nation’s hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November, 2009. In a statement issued yesterday, the Royal Commonwealth Society congratulated Persad-Bissessar on her appointment as Prime Minister and also praised the conduct of her election campaign. 

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