Johannesburg - 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).
PAP president Roger Nkodo Dang has wished South Africa a successful day of voting on Wednesday and also thanked the host country for ensuring that PAP functions with ease in order to deliver its mandate.
The speakers of three national assemblies attended PAP’s opening ceremony on Monday.
They included the first female President of the United Arab Emirates’ Federal National Council, Dr Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, the speaker of Malawi’s parliament Richard Msowoya, and the representative of the speaker of the Gabon’s national assembly, Richard Royembo.
In the chamber, Qubaisi said the observer status that was requested by the UAE would allow African parliamentarians and the UAE to work closer together and strengthen strategic partnerships.
Msowoya said regional integration was “no longer a choice but a necessity” and although Africa and PAP face many challenges, the latter could 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 PAP plays a critical role.
Msowoya further challenged African legislators to ask themselves tough questions as to why there are still so many refugees and displaced persons on the continent when he addressed the theme of the session "2019, the Year of Refugees, Returnees, and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa".
Valentin Tapsoba, Southern African Regional Representative of the UNHCR, lauded the selection of the second ordinary session theme, stating that PAP has a role to play in the ratification of the Protocol on the Right to Nationality and the Eradication of Statelessness.
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 PAP members.
African News Agency/ANA