Speakers of Parliament from eleven countries of the Great Lakes Region yesterday finally penned an accord putting in place the Forum of Parliaments of the International Conference of the Great Lakes region member States (FP-ICGLR).
The forum expected to address arising security issues in the region was established in the meeting that has been bringing them together that ended in Kigali yesterday.
Until yesterday, several declarations leading to the formation of the forum had since 2004 been signed by both the Heads of State and Members of Parliaments of the Great Lakes region.
The legal framework of the forum is expected to enable participation of parliaments in the establishment of peace, security and development to allow the people represented by the MPs to develop.
The assembly of the parliament is the supreme organ of the forum and it is headed by the Bureau which is composed of the current Chairperson, the incoming Chairperson and the outgoing Chairperson.
Rwanda holds the chairmanship of the forum to date with the president of the Senate Dr. Vincent Biruta being the Chairperson.
Other members of the Bureau are Gervais Rufyikiri the president of the Burundian Senate who is also the outgoing chair and Samuel N. Njuguna (MP) Kenya National Assembly.
Kenya is the incoming chair of the Bureau and will host the next meeting to finalise the formation of the forum in June next year.
The Assembly of the forum which has five commissions is made up of the speaker of parliament along with five other members from each member state, and at least a third of these should be women.
“It is an exciting moment to have this forum established and its dynamics should go beyond parliaments to the people we represent,” said Biruta. He added that this will help strengthen the role of parliaments in conflict resolution and bring about regional peace.
“I have no doubt that the forum will receive necessary support from member States,” he added.
Uganda’s Deputy Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said that the formation of the forum was long overdue pointing out that there is number of women and children who have been abducted, raped and murdered as a result of conflict in the region that could have been addressed by regional parliaments.
Countries that signed the accord attending the conference include Rwanda, Burundi, Central African Republic, DR Congo, The Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.
Two other countries Sudan and Angola were not represented during the signing.