The opening ceremony of the Second Ordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), which took place today, set the tone for the Continental Parliament’s resolve to promote free trade, eradicate conflicts and combat climate change.
The Ordinary Session is being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area” in Midrand, South Africa and will run from 15 May to 2 June 2023.
In his welcome remarks, President of the Pan-African Parliament, H.E.Hon.Chief Fortune Charumbira, applauded the presence of the Guest of honour, H.E Azali Assouami, President of the Union of Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union. Hon. Chief Charumbira described the presence as historical and a measure of the Chairperson’s high regard for the importance of the Pan-African Parliament in the continental governance matrix.
"Today, we honour the presence of the African Union Chairperson, H.E. Azali Assounami. We honour your presence because in the past, despite being an integral Organ of the African Union, we have sometimes struggled to elicit the attendance of Chairpersons of the African Union. We thank you for this recognition and applaud your exemplary leadership," said H.E. Hon. Chief Charumbira.
"The focus of this plenary session will again be on the African Continental Free Trade Area and how the Pan-African Parliament can effectively contribute to the implementation of this important agreement. We have lined up presentations from various experts, including the Secretary General of the AfCFTA, in a bid to empower Members to optimally utilize their oversight, representative and quasi-legislative powers to accelerate the implementation of the AfCFTA," added H.E.Hon. Chief Charumbira.
Officially opening the Session, H.E. Azali Assoumani, expressed his commitment to working with the Pan-African Parliament. "I would like to congratulate the Pan-African Parliament for the remarkable work done so far and also in the consolidation of our institutions. Our institutions must work hand in glove to meet the challenges of our continent," said H.E. Azali Assoumani.
Also gracing the opening ceremony were high level guests, including South Africa’s Hon. Candith Mashego-Dlamini, Deputy Minister of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Hon. Naama Mayara, Speaker of the House of Advisors, Morocco, Rt.Hon. Modeste Bahati Lukwebo, Speaker of the Democratic Republic of Congo Senate, Rt.Hon Amason Jeffah Kingi, Speaker of the Senate of Kenya, and Hon. Senanu Koku Alupui representing the Rt. Hon Sidie Mohamed Tunis, Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament.
Cognizant of the strides the Pan-African Parliament has made under the leadership of the current Bureau, Hon. Candith Mashego-Dlamini hailed the Continental Parliament. "The Pan-African Parliament has an extensive and impressive agenda which seeks to address the continent's challenges. It is befitting that the Parliament will host a Summit on Climate. We hope this institution will continue its robust thrust," said Hon. Candith Mashego Dlamini.
She also reiterated South Africa's commitment to providing necessary support to facilitate the work of the PAP and the resolve to build a permanent precinct for the PAP in SA. Central to discussions was also the pivotal role Africa’s Parliament has played in conflict resolution in Africa.
In relation to conflict resolution, the PAP President H.E. Hon. Chief Charumbira informed the plenary that the PAP has in the past undertaken fact-finding missions to assess the situation of women and girls in conflict areas including Chad, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sudan and South Sudan.
Meanwhile, the continental Parliament saw the swearing in of new Members of Parliament from Botswana, Cameroon, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar and Somalia.