Pan African mission to be sent to Sudan

Pan African mission to be sent to Sudan

THE Pan African Parliament is to send a mission to Sudan to assist in the United Nations in expediting the peace process of the troubled Darfur region.

The decision was taken at the second session of the parliament, from which Namibia’s delegation arrived home over the weekend. The leader of the Namibian delegation, Swapo Chief Whip Ben Amathila, said yesterday that the parliament agreed that conflict on the continent was causing it to regress.The UN estimates that about 50 000 people have been killed in the conflict that was sparked in February after years of clashes between Arab nomads and non-Arab farmers over scarce resources in the arid western region.The establishment of the Peace and Security Commission that was under discussion during this session, will involve putting an early warning system in place to identify potential hostile and aggressive situations before they erupt into full-scale conflict.The President of the Parliament, Gertrude Mongella, is now responsible for composing the delegation and finding the funds necessary to send them to Sudan.Finances have proved a major problem for getting the parliament off the ground.Last month’s sitting had to be cut short because of a shortage of funds.As the host country for the next five years, South Africa will shoulder the running costs of the parliament while each country will foot the costs for sending their members to the biannual sittings.A budget of US$6,9 million for 2005 will be reviewed by African Union (AU) foreign ministers at a meeting in Ethiopia next month.The African Union (AU) allocated US$1,7 million and South Africa another US$7 million to fund the parliament during this year.Namibia was represented by four of the five members elected to the parliament – Amathila, Swapo MP Lydia Katjita, CoD MP Tsudao Gurirab and National Council MP Karlous Shinohamba.Swapo MP Ella Kamanya could not attend because of illness.A major focus of this session was to establish the rules and procedures that will govern the body.The mission and vision of the African Union, the aims of the Peace and Security Commission, the role and budget of the new parliament as well as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) were the major topics of debate.Namibian delegates were all elected to the parliamentary working committees.Amathila was chosen as Chairperson of the Southern African Regional Caucus as well as a member of the Committee on Rules, Procedures, Privileges and Discipline.Katjita will serve the committee on Justice and Human Rights, Shinohamba the committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, National Resources and Environment and Gurirab on the Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration.Shinohamba will chair the subcommittee on Rural Economy, while Gurirab was chosen as rapporteur of the Trade and Immigration Committee.Amathila yesterday called for greater participation from civil society in the continental parliament, reminding them that they, too, are able to petition the body.He advised that they approach MPs who are members of the African parliament for advice.Katjita said that the 20 per cent women’s representation was too little.Libya extended an invitation for the women to next meet in December to discuss promoting women’s participation in decision-making structures.The parliament will consist of 265 members once all 53 member countries of the AU have signed up.To date, 46 member states have ratified the protocol to the treaty establishing the parliament.The third session of the Pan African Parliament will be held in March.The leader of the Namibian delegation, Swapo Chief Whip Ben Amathila, said yesterday that the parliament agreed that conflict on the continent was causing it to regress.The UN estimates that about 50 000 people have been killed in the conflict that was sparked in February after years of clashes between Arab nomads and non-Arab farmers over scarce resources in the arid western region.The establishment of the Peace and Security Commission that was under discussion during this session, will involve putting an early warning system in place to identify potential hostile and aggressive situations before they erupt into full-scale conflict.The President of the Parliament, Gertrude Mongella, is now responsible for composing the delegation and finding the funds necessary to send them to Sudan.Finances have proved a major problem for getting the parliament off the ground.Last month’s sitting had to be cut short because of a shortage of funds.As the host country for the next five years, South Africa will shoulder the running costs of the parliament while each country will foot the costs for sending their members to the biannual sittings.A budget of US$6,9 million for 2005 will be reviewed by African Union (AU) foreign ministers at a meeting in Ethiopia next month.The African Union (AU) allocated US$1,7 million and South Africa another US$7 million to fund the parliament during this year.Namibia was represented by four of the five members elected to the parliament – Amathila, Swapo MP Lydia Katjita, CoD MP Tsudao Gurirab and National Council MP Karlous Shinohamba.Swapo MP Ella Kamanya could not attend because of illness.A major focus of this session was to establish the rules and procedures that will govern the body.The mission and vision of the African Union, the aims of the Peace and Security Commission, the role and budget of the new parliament as well as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) were the major topics of debate.Namibian delegates were all elected to the parliamentary working committees.Amathila was chosen as Chairperson of the Southern African Regional Caucus as well as a member of the Committee on Rules, Procedures, Privileges and Discipline.Katjita will serve the committee on Justice and Human Rights, Shinohamba the committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, National Resources and Environment and Gurirab on the Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration.Shinohamba will chair the subcommittee on Rural Economy, while Gurirab was chosen as rapporteur of the Trade and Immigration Committee.Amathila yesterday called for greater participation from civil society in the continental parliament, reminding them that they, too, are able to petition the body.He advised that they approach MPs who are members of the African parliament for advice.Katjita said that the 20 per cent women’s representation was too little.Libya extended an invitation for the women to next meet in December to discuss promoting women’s participation in decision-making structures.The parliament will consist of 265 members once all 53 member countries of the AU have signed up.To date, 46 member states have ratified the protocol to the treaty establishing the parliament.The third session of the Pan African Parliament will be held in March.

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