Rose Mukantabana, the Speaker of the Lower Chamber of deputies is convinced that once launched, the wider regional Forum of Parliaments will deliver on many aspects, including peace and security.
She underlined this in a Parliamentary news conference yesterday morning ahead of the high-level conference on the establishment of the Forum of Parliaments for member States of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) that starts today.
“There is hope when people work together to tackle problems. Even the Democratic Republic of Congo Parliament will be represented and their coming itself, is one first big step,” she said, when asked what possible changes the new forum would bring in addressing the region’s current security problems.
She explained that the new arrangement will create a rare opportunity for parliaments to meet, do advocacy and follow-up on issues, making sure that accords are signed and implemented.
“With the help of parliaments in the region, it will put pressure on governments to abide by and implement agreements,” said Mukantabana in the news conference that took place at the parliamentary buildings in Kimihurura.
Starting today through Friday, the conference to be held at the Parliament in Kimihurura will bring together legislators from the 11 Member States of the ICGLR.
The States include Angola, Burundi, Congo- Brazzaville, Kenya, the Republic of Central Africa, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
The Speaker was accompaigned by the Senate Vice President, Prosper Higiro.
“Our role is to examine and challenge the work of government, follow-up on issues and see whether they are being implemented as required and we also put up legislation,” Higiro said.
Higiro said: “Such a forum is one of the ways of solving problems. However, if a country like (DR) Congo didn’t have the will to solve problems; those concerned should not be discouraged. That is how parliamentary diplomacy is done.”
“All this is to bring about trust building, the new thing here is to increase pressure, diplomacy, hope,” he added.
According to a subsequent press release, the creation of the forum ensues from the 2006 Nairobi Declaration by regional leaders when they signed the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region.
The four-day conference’s main purpose, among others, is to officially establish a legal mechanism allowing ICGLR Parliaments to participate in the implementation of the Pact.
Apart from the ICGLR Member States, representatives from other parliamentary organizations such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Pan African Parliament (PAP) and the European Parliament are expected to attend. It has been organized and jointly funded by the Parliament of Rwanda, AWEPA and the ICGLR Executive Secretariat.
The Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa – AWEPA – is an international non-governmental organization founded by European Parliamentarians to support the well functioning of African parliaments and keeping Africa on the political agenda in Europe, among others.