- Executive Presidents
- Non-executive Presidents
Republics in the Commonwealth
There are 31 republics in the Commonwealth with a president as the head of state, 20 of which are executive and 11 non-executive presidencies. Following the London Declaration of 1949 which allowed the Commonwealth to admit and retain members that were not Commonwealth realms, India was the first Commonwealth country to become a presidential republic in 1950. This opened the way for other countries which adopted republican constitutions to become Commonwealth members.
Executive presidents in the Commonwealth
Most executive presidents in the Commonwealth are elected directly by universal suffrage. For a few countries, for example South Africa, Guyana, Botswana and Nauru the executive president is elected by parliament, and normally is the leader of the largest party in the house. As not only heads of state but also government executive presidents attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). CHOGM, which takes place every two years, allows Commonwealth leaders to meet and discuss global and Commonwealth issues, and to agree on collective policies and initiatives. The summits which provide a unique forum for consultation at the highest level of government are organised by the host nation in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat.
For many Commonwealth countries, non-executive presidents inherited many of the roles and responsibilities of the governor general during the early years of independence, following republican promulgation. As heads of state, non-executive presidents are involved in ceremonial duties such as appointing ministers, ambassadors and judges on the advice of a prime minister, and giving assent to legislation. Usually elderly statesmen or stateswomen, respected academics or distinguished public servants they are in most cases nominated and formally elected by parliament. In a few exceptions such as Singapore the president, who is non-executive, is elected by universal suffrage.