22 November 2012

Rwanda to Host African Parliament Union Conference

Rwanda is set to host the 61st Executive Committee Session and 35th African Parliament Union (APU) conference.

The week-long conference scheduled to begin on Monday, will be attended by estimated over 150 participants from 41 African countries, who are members of the African Parliament Union, and some members of international organizations like World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF and FAO.

According to the vice-president of the senate Bernard Makuza, the conference is one way of strengthening the country's parliamentary diplomacy. He further added that the conference, to be held under the theme 'Strengthening good governance through democracy in Africa' will mainly discuss issues regarding good governance, democracy and the role of parliaments in poverty eradication.

"It will be a time of reflection and exchange of ideas focusing mainly on conflicts and insecurity situations on the continent, good governance and democracy related problems, poverty reduction and laws' impact on our communities," Senator Makuza said. "It is the first time that Rwanda organizes this conference since its admission in APU as a member state. This shows how trustworthy Rwanda is to different international organizations for which we are members."

The conference will also help participants benefit from their stay in the country, learn more about its history and what has been achieved since the 1994 genocide against Tutsis.

To facilitate this, trips have been organized for participants to visit Mutobo (Northern Province) Demobilization and Reintegration Camp, to witness how ex-combatants from FDLR and other mutinies in the Eastern DRC are being reintegrated in the Rwandan community. They will also visit Gicumbi district in Northern Province to witness grass-roots community development programs such as Ubudehe, land in use consolidation programs, etc.

"Finally they will visit Nyanza district in Southern province to get informed about Rwanda's cultural history from where our ancestors and kings used to stay (Rukali-Nyanza district)," the senator told the press.

According to Makuza, Rwanda will also use the occasion to express gratitude to other African countries that have played their part to support Rwanda win a seat in the UN Security Council against all odds.

Among the over 150 invited parliamentarians, 133 have already confirmed attendance including 7 speakers from Nigeria, Sudan, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, Congo and South Sudan.

The African Parliament Union was created in 1976. It has 41 African members. It unites different African parliaments, and has as mission to strive for an African society based on African political, economic and social beliefs. It also plays an important role in promoting freedom of expression, gender equality, peace, justice and human rights on the continent.

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