As South Africans approach voting day, African Parliamentarians have gathered in Midrand for the commencement of the second ordinary session of the fifth legislature of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP).
The Pan-African Parliament President, the Rt. Hon. Roger Nkodo DANG haswishedSouth Africa successful polls on Wednesday the 8 May 2019 and also thanked the host country for ensuring that the PAP functions with ease in order to deliver its mandate.
The Speakers of three National Assemblies have graced the opening ceremony with their presence, including the first female President of the United Arab Emirates’ Federal National Council, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Amal Abdullah Al QUBAISI.
The two other Speakers attending the opening ceremony were Hon. Richard Msowoya, Speaker of the Parliament of Malawi and Hon. Faustin Boukoubi, Speaker of the National Assembly of Gabon, who was represented by his second vice president, Richard Royembo.
In the Chamber, the Rt. Hon. Al Qubaisi said the Observer Status that was requested by the UAE would allow Members of Parliaments from Africa and the UAE to work closer together and strengthen strategic partnerships.
On the other hand, Hon. Richard MSOWOYA from Malawi said regional integration was “no longer a choice but a necessity” and although Africa and the Pan-African Parliament face many challenges, the PAP can count on the Malawian Parliament to achieve better regional cooperation.
He said that many of the challenges on the continent, especially armed conflict and terrorism, could be prevented if Africa strengthened its democratic institutions emphasising that to this end, the PAP plays a critical role.
Speaking to the session theme that is framed against that of the African Union: “2019, the Year of Refugees, Returnees, and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa,” Hon. Msowoya challenged African Legislators to ask themselves tough questions such as why are there still so many refugees and displaced persons on the continent?
The session, which runs till 17 May 2019, has also drawn support from other dignitaries and organisation.
Mr.Valentin TAPSOBA, Southern African Regional Representative of the UNHCR, lauded the selection of the second ordinary session theme, stating that the PAP has a role to play in the ratification of the Protocol on the Right to Nationality and the Eradication of Statelessness.
Hon. Dr Bernadette LAHAI, a former Member of the Bureau and no stranger to the PAP, was one of the honourable guests who presented messages of solidarity. She said when she left Office at the Parliament, only five countries– including her own country, Sierra Leone had ratified the Malabo protocol.
“Today 12 countries have ratified, and we have 21 signatories,” she said. “We still have some miles to cover to reach 28 countries. I am available to work with the Bureau to speed up the ratification of the various instruments,” said Hon. Lahai.
Twenty-six new members from twelve countries, including Algeria, the Comoros, Kingdom of Eswatini, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles and Uganda were sworn in as Honourable Members of the Pan-African Parliament
The official opening day of the second ordinary session concluded with meetings of the regional caucuses in the afternoon.