The Government of Gabon has bestowed the Commander of the Gabonese National Order of Merit upon the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland.
This is one of the country’s highest honours awarded to both Gabonese and foreign nationals. It was presented to Scotland following an audience with the President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, at the President’s Office in Libreville.
“It was a great surprise and an extraordinary honour to be made today a Commander of the Gabonese Republic. It was something that I had no idea was going to happen and has touched me deeply,” said Secretary-General Scotland at the ceremony.
“Gabon is the latest member to join our wonderful family of nations, making us now 56 member states – the largest number we have ever had.
“And the speed with which Gabon was able to fulfil all the criteria to enable Gabon to join us has been truly remarkable. Their dedication and their commitment to being part of our family is quite inspiring.
“This is my first visit to Gabon and it is one that I will always remember, not least by virtue of it being marked in this quite extraordinary way. I want to thank the President of Gabon and the people of Gabon for welcoming me and making me feel so much at home and so Gabonese.”
As one of the Commonwealth’s newest members, the four-day visit saw the Secretary-General and her delegation hold a series of meetings with senior government officials to explore areas where the Commonwealth Secretariat can serve and support the Government and people of Gabon in advancing shared values and goals.
During her audience with the President, the Secretary-General formally presented President Ali Bongo with a copy of the Commonwealth Charter, signed by Her Majesty The Queen in 2013, which commits Gabon to the values and aspirations of the Commonwealth family.
On the occasion, it was announced that an official flag-raising ceremony will take place this autumn at the Commonwealth Headquarters in London, Marlborough House, formally welcoming Gabon to the Commonwealth of Nations.
Learn more: The Commonwealth Secretariat