Commonwealth Chair-in-Office

The Commonwealth Chair-in-Office (CIO) is the Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth of Nations, and is one of the main leadership positions in the Commonwealth. It is held by the host chairperson of the previous Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), and is maintained until the next CHOGM.[1]

The primary responsibility of the Chair-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.

The position was created after the 1999 CHOGM, with Thabo Mbeki becoming the first Chair-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. Even after John Howard became Chair, 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. The third Chair, 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 woman to chair the Commonwealth, gave the keynote address. Sri Lanka was also slated to host the much anticipated Commonwealth Economic Forum in 2011, however, it was held in Perth, Australia due to accusations of war atrocities committed during the Sri Lankan Civil War.

As Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard succeeded Persad-Bissessar as the second female Chair 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]

Chair-in-Office of the
Commonwealth of Nations
Theresa May portrait
Theresa May

since 19 April 2018
Term length2 years
Inaugural holderThabo Mbeki
Formation12 November 1999

List of Chairs-in-Office

Elizabeth II (1999–present)

# 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 27 November 2015
13 Joseph Muscat Malta Malta Prime Minister 2015 27 November 2015 19 April 2018
14 Theresa May United Kingdom United Kingdom Prime Minister 2018 19 April 2018 Incumbent


  1. ^ "Our History". The Commonwealth. The Commonwealth. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  2. ^ Ingram, Derek (January 2004). "Abuja Notebook". The Round Table. 93 (373): 7–10. doi:10.1080/0035853042000188157.
  3. ^ President will be C' wealth Chairman for next two years. Theresa May, the UK is now the Commonwealth Chair in Office as the UK hosted the CHOGM in London, April 2018. - 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.
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM; or) is a biennial summit meeting of the heads of government from all Commonwealth nations. Every two years the meeting is held in a different member state and is chaired by that nation's respective Prime Minister or President who becomes the Commonwealth Chair-in-Office until the next meeting. Queen Elizabeth II, who is the Head of the Commonwealth, attended every CHOGM beginning with Ottawa in 1973 until Perth in 2011, although her formal participation only began in 1997. However, she was represented by the Prince of Wales at the 2013 meeting as the 87-year-old monarch was curtailing long distance travel. The Queen attended the 2015 summit in Malta and the 2018 CHOGM held in London.

The first CHOGM was held in 1971 in Singapore, and there have been 25

held in total: the most recent was held in London, England. They are held once every two years, although this pattern has twice been interrupted. They are held around the Commonwealth, rotating by invitation amongst its members.

In the past, CHOGMs have attempted to orchestrate common policies on certain contentious issues and current events, with a special focus on issues affecting member nations. CHOGMs have discussed the continuation of apartheid rule in South Africa and how to end it, military coups in Pakistan and Fiji, and allegations of electoral fraud in Zimbabwe. Sometimes the member states agree on a common idea or solution, and release a joint statement declaring their opinion. More recently, beginning at the 1997 CHOGM, the meeting has had an official 'theme', set by the host nation, on which the primary discussions have been focused.

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011, commonly known as CHOGM 2011, was the twenty-second Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Nations. Held in Perth, Western Australia, between 28 and 30 October 2011 and hosted by the Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2015

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2015, also known as CHOGM 2015 was the 24th meeting of the heads of government of the Commonwealth of Nations. It was held in Malta from 27 to 29 November. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena handed the position of Commonwealth Chair-in-Office to Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat at the meeting.

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018, also known as CHOGM 2018, was the 25th meeting of the heads of government of the Commonwealth of Nations. It was held in the United Kingdom. The meeting had been planned to have been held by Vanuatu at the end of 2017, but was moved to the United Kingdom after the impact of Cyclone Pam on the infrastructure of Vanuatu. The meeting was then postponed to April 2018 due to other international commitments.The position of Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, held by the government leader of the CHOGM host country, was transferred at the summit from the Prime Minister of Malta to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who will hold the post until the 26th CHOGM (expected in 2020).

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2020

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2020, also known as CHOGM 2020, will be the 26th meeting of the heads of government of the Commonwealth of Nations. The summit is scheduled to be held in Rwanda. The meeting was originally expected to be held in Malaysia but the decision of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak not to attend CHOGM 2018 due to political uncertainty at home meant that he was unable to formally propose Malaysia as host. It was announced that Commonwealth leaders had accepted Rwanda's offer to host the meeting instead of Fiji which had also made an offer. It will be the first Commonwealth Summit held in a country that is not a former British colony or dominion or the United Kingdom itself.

The position of Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, held by the government leader of the CHOGM host country, will be transferred at the summit from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to the President of Rwanda, who will hold the post until the 27th CHOGM expected to be held in Samoa in 2022.

Head of the Commonwealth

The Head of the Commonwealth is the "symbol of the free association of independent member nations" of the Commonwealth of Nations (commonly known as the Commonwealth), an intergovernmental organisation that currently comprises fifty-three sovereign states. There is no set term of office or term limit and the role itself involves no part in the day-to-day governance of any of the member states within the Commonwealth.

By 1949, the British Commonwealth was a group of eight countries, each having George VI as king. India, however, desired to become a republic, but not depart the Commonwealth by doing so. This was accommodated by the creation of the title Head of the Commonwealth for the King and India became a republic in 1950. Subsequently, many other nations including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore ceased to recognise the monarch of the United Kingdom as their respective head of state, but as members of the Commonwealth of Nations recognised the British monarch as Head of the Commonwealth.The title is currently held by Queen Elizabeth II, George VI's eldest daughter. Charles, Prince of Wales, was appointed her designated successor at the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Maithripala Sirisena

Pallewatte Gamaralalage Maithripala Yapa Sirisena (Sinhala: පල්ලෙවත්‍ත ගමරාළලාගේ මෛත්‍රීපාල යාපා සිරිසේන; Tamil: பல்லேவத்த கமரலகே மைத்திரிபால யாப்பா சிறிசேன; born 3 September 1951) is a Sri Lankan politician, the seventh and current President of Sri Lanka, in office since January 2015. Sirisena is Sri Lanka's first president from the North Central Province of the country and does not belong to the traditional Sri Lankan political elite.Sirisena joined mainstream politics in 1989 as a member of the Parliament of Sri Lanka and has held several ministries since 1994. He was the general-secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and was Minister of Health until November 2014 when he announced his candidacy for the 2015 presidential election as the opposition coalition's "common candidate". His victory in the election is generally viewed as a surprise, coming to office through the votes won from the alternative Sinhala-majority rural constituency and the Tamil and Muslim minority groups that have been alienated by the Rajapaksa government on post-war reconciliation and growing sectarian violence. Their votes were more anti-Rajapaksa than pro-Sirisena. Maithripala Sirisena pledged to implement a 100-day reform program where he promised to rebalance the executive branch within 100 days of being elected, by reinforcing Sri Lanka's judiciary and parliament, to fight corruption and to investigate allegations of war crimes from 2009, repeal the controversial eighteenth amendment, re-instate the seventeenth amendment and appoint UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister. He later was reported to have publicly disavowed this program, claiming that he did not know where it originated.Sirisena was sworn in as the sixth Executive President before Supreme Court judge K. Sripavan in Independence Square, Colombo at 6.20pm on 9 January 2015. Immediately afterwards he appointed Ranil Wickremesinghe as the new Prime Minister. After being sworn in Sirisena stated that he would only serve one term. Sirisena voluntarily transferred significant presidential powers to parliament on 28 April.He is well known for surprising Sri Lankans by issuing gazettes every Friday since 26 October 2018. In 2018, Sirisena appointed the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa (his former rival) as the Prime Minister, wrote a letter firing Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (with whose major support he became the president in 2015) and prorogued Parliament, all in apparent contradiction to the Constitution of Sri Lanka, instigating a constitutional crisis. This marks Sirisena's second, and most successful attempt to bring Rajapaksa to power.

Theresa May

Theresa Mary May (; née Brasier; born 1 October 1956) is a British politician serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party since 2016. She served as Home Secretary from 2010 to 2016. May was first elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Maidenhead in 1997. Ideologically, she identifies herself as a one-nation conservative.May grew up in Oxfordshire and attended St Hugh's College, Oxford. After graduating in 1977, she worked for the Bank of England. She also served as a councillor for Durnsford in Merton. After unsuccessful attempts to be elected to the House of Commons she was elected as the MP for Maidenhead in the 1997 general election. From 1999 to 2010, May held a number of roles in Shadow Cabinets. She was also Chairwoman of the Conservative Party from 2002 to 2003.

When the coalition government was formed after the 2010 general election, May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, but gave up the latter role in 2012. She continued to serve as home secretary after the Conservative victory in the 2015 general election, and became the longest-serving home secretary in over 60 years. During her tenure she pursued reform of the Police Federation, implemented a harder line on drugs policy including the banning of khat, oversaw the introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners, the deportation of Abu Qatada, and the creation of the National Crime Agency, and brought in additional restrictions on immigration. She is to date, the only woman to hold two of the great offices of state.

In July 2016, after David Cameron resigned, May was elected as Conservative Party Leader, becoming Britain's second female Prime Minister after Margaret Thatcher. As Prime Minister, May began the process of withdrawing the UK from the European Union, triggering Article 50 in March 2017. The following month, she announced a snap general election, with the aim of strengthening her hand in Brexit negotiations. This resulted in a hung parliament, in which the number of Conservative seats fell from 330 to 317, despite the party winning its highest vote share since 1983. The loss of an overall majority prompted her to enter a confidence and supply arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to support a minority government.

May survived a vote of no confidence from her own MPs in December 2018 and a Parliamentary vote of no confidence in January 2019. May has said that she will not lead her party in the next general election scheduled for 2022 under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, but has not ruled out leading it into a snap election. May carried out the Brexit negotiations with the European Union, adhering to the Chequers Agreement, which resulted in the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU. This agreement was defeated by Parliament in January 2019, and negotiations continue to try and reach a deal. May’s revised deal was defeated in Parliament by 391 votes to 242. In March 2019, May committed to stepping down as Prime Minister if Parliament passed her Brexit deal, to make way for a new leader in the second phase of Brexit.

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