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FINAL COMMUNIQUÉ FROM THE THIRD CONFERENCE AND  FOURTH COUNCIL MEETING OF THE ASSOCIATION OF SENATES, SHOORA, AND EQUIVALENT COUNCILS IN AFRICA AND ARABWORLD KHARTOUM, 24-25 NOVEMBER, 2008

 

Under the auspices of H. E Field Marshal, Omar Hassan Al-Basheer, the President of the Republic of Sudan, and upon an invitation from H. E Ali Yahya Abduallh , Speaker of Council of States of Sudan, the third conference and fourth council meeting  of the Association of Senates, Shoora, and Equivalent Councils in Africa and Arab World (ASSECAA) was held in Khartoum, the bridge of Afro-Arab communication, from Nov.24-26, 2008. Delegates from 15 Arab and African member councils/senates attended the meeting as follows:

 

-         The Democratic Republic of Algeria

-         Republic of Burundi

-         The Federal Republic of Ethiopia

-         The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

-         The Kingdom of Morocco

-         The Islamic Republic of Mauritania

-         The Republic of Namibia

-         The Federal Republic of Nigeria

-         The State of Qatar

-         The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

-         The Democratic Republic of Sudan

-         Republic of South Africa

-         Kingdom of Swaziland

-         Republic of Yemen

 

A delegation from the Arab League attended the meeting as an observer. 

-         The conference was dominated by an overwhelming  spirit of understanding, cooperation and common keenness to attain the Associationís objectives, as well as a strong determination to go ahead with strengthening bonds of cooperation among ASSECAAís member states, pursuing the efforts of Afro-Arab parliamentary coordination and integration, boosting bicameralism, contributing to the activities of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, mobilizing efforts of investing the massive potentials for the good of  Arab and African nations, eliminating causes of tensions and violence in Africa, Middle East and the world at large, and working towards the achievement of peace, security and stability in the future.

 

The opening speech was delivered by H. E, Abdul Aziz Abdul Ghani, Speaker of Shoora Council of Yemen, and chairman of ASSECAA, who shed light on the extraordinary importance of the Association being the sole entity whose objectives and activities are directed towards the strengthening of regional integration among the Arab and African countries. He pointed out that the Association has, since its creation, been prioritizing the most important issues that contribute to the establishment of peace, security and economic cooperation, as well as to the activation of trade and investment exchange.

 

He touched upon the two initiatives taken by the Association, namely the creation of peace and conflict resolution committee, and the holding of the first meeting of chambers of commerce and industry in Africa and Arab world.

 

He hoped that the deliberations would be a significant addition to the achievements of the Association, and would have positive effects on its future roles.

 

The chairman, in conclusion, eulogized late Mustafa Okasha, former Speaker of House of Counselors of Morocco, who passed away on Nov. 11, 2008, indicating that the deceased left indelible marks in the history of the Association. He finally prayed for the  peaceful repose of  Okasha, asking the attendees to recite the prime Sura of the holy Quran over his soul.

 

-         The Secretary General of the Association, Mr. Livinus Osuji, presented the report from the General Secretariat in which he reviewed ASSECAAís 2007 and 2008 activities, the conclusions from previous council meetings, the proposed programmes for 2009, the financial report and draft budget for 2009, programme expenditure estimates   and budget allocations for 2009.

 

The report concluded by pointing out that the achievement of the Associationís objectives and activities hinges on the member countries supporting the association, confirming that                                                                                                                  annual contributions actually paid amounted to over 80% of due contributions, which resulted in the association being unable to fully implement its programmes in the previous years. He urged member states to offer grants and gifts to the Association to enable it attain its goals.

  

-         The meeting resolved into three committees that considered the topics presented to the councils as well as the report from the General Secretariat. In its report, the financial and administrative regulations committee stressed the importance of rectifying the errors and filling the gaps existing in the draft scheme of service and administrative structure through forming a subcommittee that shall perform its functions in light of the Associationís Statute and Rules of Procedure,  international labour agreements,  applicable laws of member states, and financial and administrative regulations of similar international organizations, including Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, the African Union, and the Organization of Islamic Conference, as well as the inputs provided by member states. The aim is to properly draft the two regulations and then submit them for approval to H. E the speaker of the Council of States of the Democratic Republic of Sudan, the Speaker of the Shoora Council of Yemen, and the Speaker of the council that hosts the next council meeting.

 

The subcommittee would be chaired by the Shoora Council of Yemen, with  the following councils acting as  members:

 

-         Shoora Council of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

-         Council of States of Sudan

-         The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

-         The Senate of Burundi

-         The Senate of Swaziland

 

The council approved the committeeís recommendation that the said regulations must specify the responsibilities of the secretary general and the two assistant secretaries general, the administrative relation among them on one hand, and between them and the chairman of the association on the other.

 

-The Council also approved the committeeís recommendation that the Chairman of the Association be authorized to appoint an auditor to audit the association accounts for 2006, 2007, and 2008 and then table, through the Chairman,  his report thereon to the next council meetings.

 

-         The council approved the implementation of article 7 of the Statue and article 9 of the Rules of Procedure regarding the revitalization of the Associationís office as well as the supervision over and follow-up of the activities of the General Secretariat approved by the conference.

 

-         The committee on programmes and final communiquť submitted  its report on  the five documents presented to it, which  include the report of peace and conflict resolution committee, the report  of  the meeting of chambers of commerce and industry in Africa and Arab world, the estimated costs of the  meeting of women parliamentarians in Africa and Arab world, students exchange programme, and study visit exchange programme. The report came up with the following results:

 

-         Readjustment of the programmes to the available budget.

 

-         Prioritization of Peace and Conflict Resolution Committee initiatives topped by the Palestinian question, rallying support for Sudan in the face of the conspiracies hatched against it, the conflict in the Horn of Africa and Somalia in particular, fighting maritime piracy, and containment of tension in the Great Lakes in general and Eastern  Congo in particular.

 

-         Resolution of the conflicts raging in the Arab and African regions should be prioritized over that of other conflicts and disputes. The committee stressed the importance that all the efforts aimed at conflict resolution must be made in coordination with the African Union, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and regional and international organizations concerned.

 

-         The committee emphasized the importance of the Study Visit Exchange Programme, and urged member councils to exchange visits within the framework of this programme.

 

-         The committee discussed the global financial crisis and its impacts on developing countries, spelling out the idea that those countries should be engaged in reformulating the new world financial order.

The committee observed the absence of work mechanisms and roles  of chambers of commerce and industry, and recommended that the General Secretariat  contact member states to urge their own chambers of commerce and industry to hold regular meetings based on existing work mechanisms and specified functions.

-         The committee recommended the importance of encouraging womenís participation and membership in senate/scouncils of member states, as well as holding the meetings of women parliamentarians within the framework of the associationís objectives.

 The committee further stressed the importance of students exchange programme provided that this programme  must be undertaken through relevant authorities of member states that should in turn urge their respective ministries of education, and   higher education and culture to adopt the programme on a larger scale in order for it to cover all member countries.

 

-         The financial committee considered the topics presented to it and submitted   a report thereon, which contained a number of findings and recommendations. While discussing the 2009 draft budget, the committee was of the idea that the negative impacts of the global financial crisis on the ASSECAA member states should be taken into account. It also took into consideration the necessity of providing funds for the association to enable it pursue its activities and take care of its staff workers.

-          The committee recommended the approval of  $ 724, 760 for  2009 budget. Further, it recommended that several measures be taken to ensure that the Associationís activities are conducted transparently and in accordance with the Statute and Rules of Procedure, as well as the financial and administrative regulations to be approved by the Council. 

-         The Council then debated the appointment of the Associationís General Secretariat and approved the extension of the General Secretariatís term of office for one year, provided that a decision on whether or not to further extend this term would be taken during the council meeting to be held in the same period of next year, based on performance evaluation report, and full abidance by the Rules of Procedure and remarks from member countries.

 

-         The Council stressed the importance of forming delegations from member councils to undertake visits to non-member countries to encourage them to join this distinctive bloc, providing that delegates shoulder their travel expenses.

On Tuesday morning, 25 November, 2008, the Associationís third conference kicked off. H. E Ali Othman Mohammed Taha, Vice President of Sudan, gave a keynote speech in which he welcomed the delegates and showed his countryís interest in the Association and its role in enhancing political, economic, cultural, scientific and technical cooperation, as well as in the prioritization of peace and security issues.

 He confirmed that the problems facing the region were created to destabilize it and target the will of its nations with the objective of controlling them and plundering their own potentials.

He urged these nations to boost their will and strengthen their  political forces for the sake of self-protection which can be accomplished through regional solidarity and collaboration, with the Council remaining as one of the most important and effective means to achieve this end. He further called for establishing political, democratic and development systems on the basis of the regionís traditions, ethics and rich cultural legacy.

H. E Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Taher, Speaker of the National Assembly of Sudan, also gave an inaugural speech in which he welcomed the participants to the conference, praising the unique character of the Association, which is regarded as  a bridge for the Afro-Arab relations.

-         H. E Abdullah Ahmed Al-Hardalou, acting Speaker of the Council of States of Sudan, addressed the conference, welcoming the delegates and praising the Association being the only entity that brought together the Arab and African nations. He confirmed that Sudan, which is showing keen interest in the Association, is quite ready to support it.

He further appraised H. E Abdul Aziz Abdul Ghani for his wise leadership of the Association and the achievements he has made since the creation of ASSECAA.

Moreover, H. E Abdul Aziz Abdul Ghani, Speaker of Shoora Council of Yemen, Chairman of ASSECAA, delivered an opening speech in  which he conveyed the greetings of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to the participants and his best wishes for the success of the conference.

 

He expressed immense gratitude to the people, Parliament and government of Sudan for hosting the conference. He further expressed utmost appreciation to the Sudan, which is considered a great country due to its big population, massive geographical area and humanitarian contributions. He pointed out that the country would remain a place wherein the values of Arab and African fraternity are embodied, as well as a good example of co-existence among its people.

 

He voiced Yemenís full solidarity with Sudan, and condemned the suspicious moves by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court against Sudan and its President.

 

He touched upon the spread of piracy in the Gulf of Aden, the Read Sea and the western Indian Ocean owing to the unrest and lawlessness prevailing in Somalia, affirming that the regionís countries should set out joint mechanisms for fighting piracy in order to maintain their sovereignty over their territorial waters.

 

He highlighted the international community should shoulder its responsibility for supporting the regionís countries in order to protect global maritime navigation.

 

He further stressed the importance of establishing a regional maritime center to exchange information on piracy attacks.

 

Mr. Abdul Ghani dwelt upon the Associationís activities and the important role its playing at the regional level, as it is considered a regional parliamentary entity of scale, and pointed out that ASSECAA is showing keen interest in enhancing social peace and economic cooperation among member countries, including by utilizing investment opportunities in activating trade exchange and encouraging the private sector to make use of the promising potentials available in the African and Arab countries.

 

With respect to the global financial crisis that was about to undermine the pillars of the global economic order, but that really damaged national budgets and balances of payment the bulk of which are depending on raw material revenues, loans and aids, he noted that it is necessary for developing countries to have their voices heard when it comes to dialogues that aim to reconstitute the new global financial and economic order.

Speaking about Peace and Conflict Resolution Committee, he indicated that the meeting held in Abuja in late 2007 had focused on debating the developments taking place in Darfur region, maintaining that the sovereignty and unity of Sudan should be taken into account when seeking any solution to this issue, and that all efforts made in this regard should be concentrated on achieving social peace and co-existence among Darfur inhabitants.

He explained that the Association is fully supporting the measures taken by President Omer Al-Basheer regarding the conflict in Darfur, the latest such measure was the audacious decision to cease fire there, as well as the Sudan Peopleís initiatives which Mr. Al-Basheer had already announced. He highly commended the positive stances of the Sudanese Government on the Arab Initiative presented by the brotherly State of Qatar, as well as on the joint mediation efforts exerted by the African Union and the United Nations.

He further touched upon several priority issues  atop of which came the resolution of the Palestinian question, which can not be achieved without helping the Palestinian people create their independent state on national soil with Jerusalem as its capital, restoring the occupied Arab territories, putting an end to the Palestiniansí suffering and lifting the siege laid to Gaza.

He noted that the establishment of peace in Iraq largely depends on the pullout of foreign occupation troops from its territories as well as on helping this country recover from the destruction wreaked on it by the occupation, and safeguard its unity and social peace.

He said that the conflict currently taking place in Congo will bring further burdens to the regionís countries, which necessitates speeding up the efforts aimed at containing the standoff. 

 In this regard, he expressed the associationís readiness to support the efforts being made by the African Unionís mediator H. E former President, Olusegun Obsanjo.

He, in conclusion, extended congratulations on behalf of his colleagues, heads of ASSECAAís member councils/senates, to H. E Ali Yahya Abdullah, Speaker of Council of States of Sudan, for assuming the presidency of the association for the next term, wishing him speedy recovery and full success in the discharge of his responsibilities.

 

The following heads of delegations also delivered speeches at the conference:

 

1-     H. E Mohammed Bin Mubark Al-Khalifi, Speaker of Shoora Council of the State of Qatar.

2-     H. E  D. G. Bula, Speaker of House of Federation of Ethiopia.

3-     H. E Dr. Ruveri Gervais Ruvikeri, Speaker of the Senate of Burundi.

4-     H. E Madame Gelane Zwane , Speaker of the Senate of Kingdom of Swaziland.

5-     H. E Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Suwailem, Head of the delegation of the Shoora Council of Saudi Arabia.

6-     H. E Fuad Ahmed Al-Haji, Head of the delegation of the Shoora Council of Kingdom of Bahrain.

7-     H. E Ali Salem Al-Shakaf, Speaker of House of Counselors of Kingdom of Morocco.

8-     H. E Tsi Tsi Set Dana, Head of the delegation of the Council of Provinces of South Africa.

9-     H. E Mohammed Bu Khalkhal, head of the delegation of the council of the Nation of Algeria.

10- H. E Senator Victor Egba, head of the delegation of the Senate of Nigeria.

11- H. E Yousuf Al-Dalabeeh,  head of the delegation of the House of Dignitaries of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

 

  • At the end of the Conference sessions, the participants reached the following conclusions:
  •  The conference expresses sincere gratitude to  H. E President  Omer Al-Basheer, for his generous sponsorship for the conference, to  the Council of States of Sudan, and  the people and government of Sudan for hosting the conference.
  • Expresses immense gratitude to H. E Abdul Aziz Abdul Ghani, Chairman of ASSECAA, for the efforts he made to make the associationís activities a success during his tenure as president of the Association.
  • Congratulates H. E Ali Yahya Abdullah,  Speaker of Council of States of Sudan, and his Deputy Abdullah Ahmed Al-Hardalou, on taking over  the presidency of the Association.
  • Adopts the inaugural speech given by H. E Ali Othman Mohammed Taha, Vice President of Sudan, H. E Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Taher,  Speaker of the National Assembly of Sudan, H. E Abdullah Ahmed Al-Hardalou, Acting Speaker of Council of States of Sudan, and H. E Abdul Aziz Abdul Ghani, Speaker of Shoora Council of Yemen, as  basic document of the conference.
  • Extends congratulations to ASSECAAís Secretary General and his assistant Secretaries General for the  extension of their terms of office for one year, and praises them for the efforts they made during the previous term.
  • The conferences authorizes the Chairman of ASSECAA to appoint an auditor to audit the Associationís accounts for the years 2006, 2007, and 2008, and table the report thereon to the associationís next council meeting.
  • Express profound gratitude to the Republic of Burundi that offers to host the meeting of peace and conflict resolution committee to be held in early 2009, and asserts its commitments to playing an active role in this respect.
  • The holding of the conference in Sudan is an expression of solidarity with and support for this country in the face of the conspiracies meant to damage its unity, and endanger its stability and future.
  • In this regard, the conference:
  • Condemns the ICC Chief Prosecutorís resolution against President Omar Al-Basheer as a vile plot designed to undermine the sovereignty of Sudan, a malicious politicization of international justice in such a way that detracts the sovereignty of countries, their security, stability, and national symbols, which would also disturb peace in Sudan.
  • Highly appreciates the stances of both the African Union and the Arab league on the rejection of this vicious resolution .
  • Commends the Initiative of the Sudanese people declared by H. E Omar Al-Basheer, as well as his decision to cease hostilities in Darfur region.
  • Pays tribute to the efforts exerted by the sisterly State of Qatar as well as its initiative to host a conference on Darfur in Doha to be attended by concerned Sudanese conflicting parties.
  • Strongly denounces the heinous atrocities, including murders, arrests and displacements, property confiscation, and threats against Islamic and Christian shrines and relics, which are still being committed by the Israeli occupation forces.
  • Extremely regrets the breakdown of the peace process due to the Israeli arrogance, and confirms the necessity of respecting the international legitimacy seeking to create a Palestinian state on national soil with Jerusalem as its capital.
  • Stresses the importance of putting a stop to the Palestinian peopleís suffering and the unjust blockade of Gaza that sparked continued power blackouts , starvation, diseases and desperate life, and calls for the immediate  opening of all crossing points.
  • Expresses grave concern at the failure of the Somali factions to reach a peaceful compromise to end violence and lawlessness in Somalia, and stresses the need for urgent regional and international efforts to help this brotherly country and its people restore their unity, and achieve security, stability and social peace under strong national institutions.
  • As the Somali waters, just like its territories, have become so volatile, with this volatility spilling over into the Gulf of Aden, the western Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, it is incumbent upon the regionís countries to fight piracy, deemed a real threat to international maritime navigation, in order to meet the demands of imposing their sovereignty over their territorial waters.
  • Underlines the importance that the international community must assume its role in helping the regionís countries safeguard the international maritime navigation.
  • Further stresses the importance of creating a regional maritime center to exchange information and communications on piracy.
  • Emphasizes the necessity of defusing the conflict that has recently erupted in Eastern Congo and the Great Lakes region, and calls upon all rivals to assume their responsibility towards their nations and to eschew the catastrophic consequences of conflicts and armed confrontations.
  • Confirms the Associationís support for the African Unionís intermediary H. E President Obsanjo.
  • Emphasizes the necessity of ending the occupation of Iraq, and speeding up   the pullout of foreign occupation troops from its territories to enable this country recover from the political and economic woes, and preserve its unity and social peace.
  • Expresses support for the dialogue of civilizations and cultures, and rapprochement among religions.
  • Stresses the importance that the world order should be characterized by justice and transparency, and that the interests of developing countries should be taken into account.
  • With regard to the venue of the Associationís next conference, the conference resolved to give member councils a grace period of one month to consult with their respective governments in this respect, after which time a decision shall be taken to hold the conference either in the concerned country, according to the English alphabetical order as stipulated in the Associationís Statute and Rules of Procedure, or in the headquarter country.
  • Applauds the genuine efforts exerted by the conferenceís secretariat and all the personnel who spared no effort to facilitate the holding of the conference.

 

 

 

Issued by:

 

ASSECAAís  Third conference

 & Fourth Council meeting,

Khartoum,

26/11/2008