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133 Pan African & ECOWAS legislators conclude two day summit on continental solidarity

By  | 1 December 2009 at 03:44 | 510 views

A two day joint consultative meeting of 133 Pan African and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliamentary Representatives and 12 Speakers of Parliament including Hon. Justice Abel Nathaniel Stronge, Speaker of the Sierra Leone parliament(photo) ended last Wednesday in Abuja, the capital of Federal Republic of Nigeria, after deliberating on seven main issues that are geared towards strengthening continental solidarity.

The two day consultative meeting on the topic “The Africa – Europe joint Strategy: Impact on integration in Africa and the role of Parliament in Monitoring the joint strategy,” saw several Speakers including Fourth Deputy ECOWAS Parliamentary Speaker (a Sierra Leonean) Honorable Victoria Saidu Kamara speaking on the “framework to achieve Harmonization of African Union (AU) policies at regional level: A report on the NEPAD Activities in West Africa: Infrastructure development and impact on integration."

Several other speakers deliberated on different topics including “The Evolution of the Pan African Parliament and its vision on continental integration, “The report on the Union Government of Africa and Regional Economic Communities (REC’s) building blocks for continental integration."

Other topics include “Transformation of the Pan African Parliament into a Legislative body, the Evolution and competence of the ECOWAS – Parliament and Lessons learnt, and “The Economic Partnership agreements in West Africa and their impact on integration of the region."

Also discussed was a report on NEPAD’s activities in West Africa in particular and in Africa in general, including its framework to achieve the harmonization of African Union policies at regional level.

According to Pan African Parliament International Relations officer L. Chiwandamira, representatives of the ECOWAS and Pan African Parliament identified resource persons including Sierra Leone’s Hon. Victoria Saidu Kamara who worked on the subjects of the seminar based on back ground papers, which were translated into four languages(English, French,Portuguese and Arabic).

They exchanged views and information with all heads of regional parliamentary fora and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) on progress on continental integration, explored prospects for closer cooperation between regional economic groupings and regional parliamentary fora, critically reflected on the potential contribution of regional groups to achieving the goals of continental integration and to generate dialogue and seek ideas on the issues of regional harmonization.

The origin of the Pan-African Parliament can be traced to the Abuja Treaty which was signed by African leaders in Abuja, Nigeria, in June 1991 and which came into force in May, 1994. After the Abuja Treaty, the Fourth Extra-ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government held in Sirte, Libya 8th - 9th September, 1999, adopted the Sirte Declaration. Among other things, the Sirte Declaration called for the speedy establishment of the institutions [including the Pan African Parliament] provided for in the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community signed in Abuja, Nigeria.

The Pan-African Parliament, also known as the African Parliament, is the legislative body of the African Union. The African Parliament held its inaugural session in March 2004. At present it exercises oversight, and has advisory and consultative powers, which will last for the first five years of its existence. After that period it will exercise full legislative powers. Its 230 Parliamentary representatives are elected by the legislatures of the 46 AU states rather than being directly elected in their own capacity. Initially the seat of the Pan African Parliament was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia but it was later moved to Midrand, South Africa. The first President of the Parliament was Hon. Dr. Amb. Gertrude I. Mongella from Tanzania.