Anthony Abdul Karim Kamara (Jnr): Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 October 2018:
Members of Parliament from across Africa are gathered in Kigali for the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) First Ordinary Session of its Fifth Parliament.
Held amidst pomp and pageantry, the high-level opening ceremony saw new members sworn-in as representatives from their national legislatures around the continent, including Sierra Leone.
All of Rwanda is “honoured to serve as host,” said President Paul Kagame – President of Rwanda and current Chairperson of the African Union, in his keynote remarks at the plenary session, as he commended the “breadth of the session’s agenda”.
Welcoming the participants, he said: “Consider Rwanda as your home.”
“Be strong advocates for African Integration……. The Pan-African Parliament serves as a point of connection, joining Africa’s legislators and the citizens they represent to the African Union,” President Kagame affirmed.
Calling on the PAP legislature to take their work seriously, Kagame noted: “The impact of your work in this body is multiplied by your dual role as members of your respective legislatures. We count on you to be strong advocates for African integration.”
The Sierra Leone delegation
‘It is my considered view that Sierra Leone must establish its place firmly on the world stage through a strong and reasoned voice on the issues that affect Africa,’ said Hon. Sengepoh Solomon Thomas, the leader of the delegation.
‘This is exactly what I seek to achieve together with my colleagues. We have committed ourselves to help solve some of the problems that are transboundary and regional in nature’ he added.
The Sierra Leone delegation is made up of five members (Photo above), including deputy speaker Hon. Sengepoh Solomon Thomas and Hon. Bashiru Sidikie of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), Hon. Rosemarie Bangura and Hon. Amadu Kanu – representing the All Peoples Congress, and Hon. Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella of the National Grand Coalition (NGC).
As the only female from Sierra Leone, Hon. Rosemarie Bangura said she is looking forward to working with other female representatives from the continent to ensure their voices are heard.
With her presence, the Sierra Leone delegation met the gender diversity and political representation required of representatives in the National Parliament or deliberative organ, and are among the 40 new MPs sworn-in altogether.
“I am very thrilled and grateful to the almighty God, our parliament for approving my candidature and my constituents for electing me as their MP,” Hon Bangura said.
Noting his excitement among other legislators, Hon. Kanu noted that he looks forward to the “substantive engagements” following the opening ceremonies.
“Following our accreditation and our swearing-in, we have orientation going on to help us navigate our new roles as members of PAP.”
Held under the theme ‘Winning the Fight against Corruption – A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation’, PAP president – Roger Nkodo Dang and MP from Cameroun, lauded Rwanda’s efforts in fighting corruption.
“Rwanda is important in the fight against corruption on the continent as it offers a proven model for creating a massively popular awakening in the campaign against corruption. Political will and state instruments are crucial in this fight,” he said.
Hon. Dr. Kandeh Yumkella could not help but notice the irony. As a new member of the PAP and on his first attendance, the theme is about corruption and moving Africa forward.
Meanwhile, his colleague MPs at the Tower Hill-Freetown parliament have debated and passed the instruments for the establishment of the proposed Commissions of Inquiry.
“Our views as a party are clear,” Dr. Yumkella said during a short break at the imposing Kigali Convention Centre. “Our party Chairman and Leader and the Deputy Leader in Parliament have been designated to lead the NGC position.”
It is noteworthy that, Dr Yumkella was the first MP to state his views on the Commissions of Inquiry in September during his USA townhall meetings.
“Not only do we support the proposed commissions of inquiry, we also call for them to be free and fair. We call for due process to be accorded to every citizen and for them to be treated as innocent until proven guilty,” Yumkella commented.
His party, the NGC, released a press statement on the party’s position. The Sierra Leone Telegraph was first to report the BREAKING NEWS.
“Time will tell whether Sierra Leone’s New Direction is for real change or the same as the past government but in a different colour.”
Africa has “many sons and daughters” who can rise-up to change the continent’s narrative while demanding accountability and good governance for what every citizen deserves in our quest for peace, unity and prosperity.
The truth, though, is if our MPs can put that which benefits Sierra Leone and her citizens first, they might be able to show what success looks like at home that can then be translated at the continental level.
Otherwise, if the naked partisan display continues as Sierra Leoneans know it, PAP will always be another “talk shop.”
And there is no better place to be than in Rwanda to get some inspiration and learn a few good lessons that they can bring back home following the summit.
Rwanda recently named a 50 percent female cabinet and is widely recognized already for the high percentage of women in parliament – 61 percent.
Anthony Abdul Karim Kamara, Jnr |@KamaraAnthony1