since China doesn't have one...
Score one for Tony Blair:
The Commonwealth has admitted Rwanda as its 54th member.The benefits of Commonwealth membership for Rwanda are obvious: increased legitimacy, possible economic opportunities, and one more way to tell France to go suck an egg.
The African country was admitted at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Trinidad and Tobago, a statement from the group said.
(Although interestingly, what was the first thing Rwanda did after finding out the Commonwealth wanted them? They restored diplomatic ties with France. Mmm-hmm.)
What I can't figure out is how this benefits the Commonwealth. What do they gain by admitting yet another country that does not allow its citizens basic political freedoms? There's an argument that Commonwealth membership might better position its members to pressure Rwanda over things like, oh, say, allowing opposition presidential candidates into the country to campaign for next year's elections, establishing free speech and press freedom, stopping the theft of Congolese mineral wealth, or ceasing the funding of armed groups that wreak chaos in the Kivus. (Or to explain to the RPF in very clear terms that no one still believes that opposition to the RPF equates to support for the genocidaires.)
But that argument rings hollow when we consider how ineffective other Commonwealth efforts to pressure member states into behaving have been. (Zimbabwe, anyone?) Somehow I don't think much of anything will change with Rwanda's entry into the Commonwealth.