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Speakers of African Parliament Meet in Cotonou

18 July 2009 at 05:18 | 243 views

By Pasco Gerald Temple, reporting from Cotonou, Benin.

The 54th session of the Executive Committee of the African Parliamentary Union(APU) is underway in Cotonou, republic of Benin.

The two day conference which attracted more than 50 Speakers of different African Houses of Assembly and parliament including Sierra Leone’s Hon. Mr. Justice Abel Nathaniel Stronge(photo), and more than 200 members of Parliament adopted a six point agenda including the adoption of results of Proceedings of the 31st conference in Kampala Uganda, addressed “Development of Agriculture in Africa, with a view to combat food crisis, contribution to the reduction of Poverty, the resolution on Promotion of Health in Africa through the combating of HIV/ Aids, and improvement of maternal and Child Health."

The resolution on the situation in Zimbabwe, Somalia, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as resolution on the respect of International Law with a view to safeguard the sovereignty of African States was also tabled.

Also for discussion were the strengthening and prestige of the union, a follow up on a series of resolutions and decisions taken throughout the past one year in different countries on the continent.

The plenary session of the executive Committee to which Sierra Leone is a member started on Wednesday July 15th at the Cotonou Center for International Conference in Cotonou.

In his opening remarks, Rtd Hon. Edward Sekandi, Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda and Chair person of the executive committee of the African Parliamentary Union described the presence of Honorable members “as a true testimony of firm commitment to work towards achieving the objectives of the African Parliamentary union, which calls for bringing together African Parliamentary institutions in Africa and to the effective achievement of the ideals of democracy, freedom, justice and the promotion of human rights.

“It is undeniable that Parliaments represent the cornerstone in the democratic structure, because they are entrusted with national legislation, oversight and control over20the executive organs," he pointed out.

He said Parliaments are also able to lay down the fundamentals for peaceful resolution of conflicts, establish peace, Security, Democracy, Good Governance, Good Economic Management and Promote Sustainable Equitable Development in their respective countries.

The Ugandan Parliamentary Speaker described African Parliaments as guardians of democratic governance which can accommodate the continents cultural, religious and political diversities.

He described as encouraging, the major democratization, social and economic development processes African countries have been making and said such developments increase the challenges of Parliaments.

“But as African Parliamentarians, we have confidence in ourselves and also have the will to make our Parliamentary institutions more effective and proactive.

“In this respect, our experience will be enriched in many areas where we can learn from one another.

“The APU can therefore provide us with an appropriate forum for knowledge and exchange of experiences," the Ugandan Speaker said.

Conspicuously absent were representatives from Republic of Liberia and the Central African Republic.

Their absence were noticed by their vacant seats and observ
ed by the Congolese Assembly Speaker of the House of Congo Parliament after he welcomed, with delight, the Hon. Mr. Justice Abel Nathaniel Stronge, speaker of the House of Sierra Leone’s Parliament.

Editor’s note: Pasco Temple is the Information Attache at the Sierra Leone High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria.