NICOLAS Sarkozy is certainly unpredictable and unconventional. Who would have thought that he would turn up at the annual meeting of the 53 Commonwealth nations in Trinidad and Tobago - a meeting of former British colonies in which English is the common language? President Chirac would certainly not have done it and the only time that President de Gaulle ventured into Commonwealth territory was his notorious visit to Canada in 1967 when he told a meeting in Montreal “Vive le Quebec libre”.

As it happened, President Sarkozy has been in Brasil so it was relatively easy for him to divert to the Caribbean on his return flight. Even so his presence at this Commonwealth meeting is significant. Perhaps he chose to attend because of the special attention it is giving to climate change and the impending Copenhagen Conference, or perhaps he wanted to remind the British-oriented Commonwealth that France has a similar association with 56 members - Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. There is one curiosity about Sarkozy's presence, though. On the agenda is an application by Rwanda, once within the French sphere of influence, to join the Commonwealth. Its change of allegiance is said to be the result of the unhelpful attitude of France towards Rwanda during the time of the terrible genocide of Tuts's and Hutus in the late-1990s. It would be interesting to know whether the French president was invited -- or invited himself.


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