KIGALI - The Great Lakes region should not be swayed by western influences while seeking solutions to its own problems, members of the Great Lakes Parliamentary Forum on Peace, better known as the Amani Forum, noted yesterday, as they begun a two-day seminar on conflict resolution in the region.
Talking to reporters after the opening ceremony, Dr. Raphael Chegeni, the Chairperson Amani Forum said: “We should not be swayed by the western influences. Let Africans sit down and look for solutions – an African problem needs an African solution that is the basic line.”
“Our friends from the international community must give us space for us to sit down and do our reflections rather than interfering in our internal policies. We never go abroad to interfere in their policies. Why do they come to interfere in ours?”
Earlier, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Denis Polisi, also the Chairperson of Amani Forum-Rwanda Chapter, urged his counterparts to always respond to the problems affecting the region.
Citing western NGOs and rights groups, Polisi noted that when a group like Amani starts working, some people try to undermine their operation.
“When we start doing things,” he said, “There are those who we are dispossessing of businesses opportunities.”
The two-day seminar organised by Amani Rwanda and AWEPA is meant to examine the security situation in the Great Lakes region; make an inventory of threats to security in the region; and identify the main fields of the role of parliamentarians in peace consolidation in the region.
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Amani has a membership of over 650 parliamentarians, with national chapters in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Regional security, international justice, and the role of the media in times of conflict are some of the issues to be tackled in the seminar, attended by over 30 parliamentarians from seven countries.
Amani works to promote peace and democracy, and to mitigate conflict in the region, and in 2007, a chapter was established in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).