The need for greater unity between the Arab Parliament and the Pan-African Parliament dominates discussions at the joint meeting in Sharm-El Sheikh.
Representatives of the Arab and Pan-African Parliaments agreed unanimously that to overcome the challenges faced by African and Arab countries, especially in the fight against terrorism, corruption and climate change, there must be an Arab-African strategy to enhance the unity between African and Arab peoples.
This sentiment was widely shared on Monday, 10 October 2016, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, at a joint session between the two Parliaments, which concluded that greater cooperation and constant exchange of experiences between the two institutions would bring them closer together around their mutual interests to foster development and create an enabling environment in member countries for the social and political well-being of their peoples.
The present meeting, organised within the framework of the Third Ordinary Session of the Fourth Parliament, on the theme, “Taking the Pan-African Parliament to the People of Africa”, will end on 19 October 2016.
According to Dr. Ali Abdel-Aal Ahmed, Speaker of the National Assembly of Egypt, the two institutions should work together toward ensuring greater respect for human rights. The Arab Parliament has been in constant touch with the Pan-African Parliament following the 1984 agreement, “which is a major platform for the two parliaments”.
“Our meeting here in Egypt today”, he said, “is proof of the strong ties between us, so we must work toward strengthening our democratic institutions and human rights issues for a brighter future for African countries”. Cooperation between the two Parliaments should be strengthened, he added, in their mutual interest.
The Speaker called on the two Parliaments to place education and health at the heart of their discussions. They must also seek platforms to end the political crises in the member countries of the two Parliaments. He further urged them to refrain from over-exploitation of natural resources, especially in developing countries.
He urged the two Parliaments “to contribute ideas to help solve issues of interference in the internal affairs of African and Arab countries. There is, therefore, a need for greater cooperation to combat fundamentalism and terrorism. Indeed, we will live to see the results of our cooperation in the near future”.
For his part, Mr. Martin Chungong, the Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, congratulated Egypt on the celebration of the 150th anniversary of its Parliament, saying that it was the first time in history that the Arab and Pan-African Parliaments were meeting. That, he said, was a historic milestone, which should benefit the future of Africa and the Arab world alike.
He said that Arab Parliaments were full-fledged members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and invited members of the Pan-African Parliament to join that international organisation, so that together, they would seek ways of pooling their efforts for their mutual benefit.
With regard to developing democracy, both the African and the Arab Parliaments were performing rather well.
Democracy, he said, was an ongoing process “at which we must work on a daily basis, as we uphold our competency, independence and responsibility”.
He expressed satisfaction at the representation of women in the Pan-African Parliament, which had reached 23%, while at the Arab Parliament it was only at 15%.
“We call on the Arab world to make every effort to increase the number of women in their Parliament” he said, while recognising the need to sharpen the skills of our parliaments to make them better institutions that give greater attention to women, persons with disabilities and minorities, within the framework of the implementation of Agenda 2030.
Parliaments, he said, must keenly debate issues such as climate change and the fight against terrorism, which are of great concern to us.
He said that, “Parliaments should increasingly focus on dialogue and be more involved in promoting peace and security, hence the need to discuss ways and means of facing these challenges”. He then invited all Parliaments to join the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
The President of the Arab Parliament, Mr. Ahmed Al-Jarwan, in his speech, championed the need for greater cooperation between the Arab and Pan-African Parliaments and for developing a strategy for regular meetings by creating a friendship group between the two Parliaments.
Parliaments could thus use that as a platform to join forces to tackle current challenges, such as organised crime, corruption and ways to implement counter-terrorism agreements.
Mr. Al-Jarwan further expressed his hopes that the two Parliaments would strive together in the context of the Summit held in Equatorial Guinea for the attainment of stability by implementing the Arab-African strategy.
During the joint meeting between the two Parliaments, Mr. Roger Nkondo Dang, President of the Pan-African Parliament, underscored the relations between the Arab and Pan-African Parliaments and highlighted the role and contribution of Egypt in the creation of the Pan-African Parliament. He urged Egypt to sign the Protocol of African Heads of State so that the continental organisation could progress from an advisory to a legislative body.
Transforming the Pan-African Parliament into a legislative organ would allow it to act promptly and more effectively in addressing key issues that affected the continent.
Mr. Sherif Ismail, Prime Minister of Egypt, noted that the joint meeting of the two Parliaments should result in ideas for developing and attaining African objectives and strengthening democratic values and respect for the rule of law, through an Arab-African cooperation model that would foster increased sharing of experiences.
According to the Prime Minister of Egypt, the main problem facing the Arab and African world is terrorism, which impedes their socio-economic development. There is also the problem of combating climate change, which represents a negative impact on the continent.
“Egypt will continue to support the fight against terrorism in Syria, Iraq and Somalia”, declared the Prime Minister, and, according to him, the crisis in Libya and Yemen should serve as a lesson for the Pan-African and Arab Parliaments, both of which should be committed to seeking concrete solutions for realising the shared goals and interests of their respective peoples.