Gabon and Togo have joined the Commonwealth as its 55th and 56th members, respectively.

On Tuesday, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, wrote an Op-Ed saying the body’s “continued growth reflects the advantages of Commonwealth membership and strength of our association.”

“The Commonwealth family is growing. At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, on 25 June 2022, Gabon and Togo became the 55th and 56th members of the Commonwealth,” the statement said. “And very soon, their flags will be flying proudly alongside those of other members at Marlborough House, the Commonwealth Headquarters in London.”

Neither Gabon nor Togo has historical associations with the Commonwealth, as both countries gained independence from France in the 1960s.

Ms. Scotland, in her editorial piece, noted that Gabon and Togo were motivated to join not only by the desire to expand their political, trade, social and diplomatic relations beyond France, but “most importantly, were attracted to the Commonwealth’s values and aspirations as enshrined in our Charter.”

In June, Commonwealth leaders accepted applications by the two west African countries during the closing session of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda. Rwanda was the last non-anglophone country to join the Commonwealth, in 2009.

Gabonese President Ali Bongo said joining the group was “making history”.

“Sixty-two years after its Independence, our country is getting ready to break through with a new chapter,” Mr. Bongo said in a statement on Twitter. “It’s a world of opportunities for Gabon on the economic, diplomatic & cultural levels.”

Togo’s Foreign Minister Robert Dussey said membership to the bloc of 54 countries opened the door to 2.5 billion people in the Commonwealth realms and offered his fellow citizens new education opportunities.

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