, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 12 – About 250 parliamentarians from 54 countries are in Nairobi for the opening of the 56th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Conference which officially kicks off on Tuesday.
CPA President Kenneth Marende said 111 more officials were expected by Sunday evening for the meeting which seeks to promote democracy and rule of law in the member countries that are former colonies of Britain.
“We have confirmations to expect another 240 delegates to arrive tomorrow (Monday). However, before the conference gets mid-way, we will have roughly 900 delegates in Kenya,” he said.
Due to the increased interest that the conference has attracted, Mr Marende, who’s also the House Speaker said there could be more than 1,000 in attendance.
“We have received some delegates who had not confirmed that they will be coming but they decided to come so we have more than we prepared for but we want to assure you that we will be able to cope,” he stated.
This is the second time that Kenya is hosting the 10-day event which will mainly focus on sustainable development of the members and how best to serve their interests.
Some topics that have to be discussed in working groups such as the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians have already kicked off as have those involving the small branches.
The Speaker added that the meeting themed “Parliament and Development in the 21st Century thus Far and Beyond" would give the National Assembly the opportunity to showcase Kenya.
“We expect that we will use this as an opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the world what our ability and capacities are particularly coming against the backdrop of the promulgation of the new Constitution,” Mr Marende added.
Kenya’s recent passage of the new law continues to attract attention the world over, with many viewing the reform process as a model for political stability and economic development.
This peaceful process is expected to be one of the key focus of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference which officially starts on Tuesday.
Mr Marende said as a country which boasts of having the one of the most progressive constitutions in the globe, Kenya now seeks to reclaim her position among the world’s top democracies after the events that followed the 2007 general elections.
“We will be able to demonstrate that what happened in 2008 (violence) was an accident and that we are a strong country and we can provide leadership in East Africa, Africa and the rest of the world,” he reaffirmed.
The Association’s Chairperson Mohd Shafie Apdal said this is one of the best practices in governance that the forum will push to be replicated in many of the commonwealth countries.
“We are here not only to deal with so many issues on how best we can help member countries but also to showcase what is happening here (Kenya) which is totally different from what is reported in terms of stability and development of the area,” the Malaysian enthused.
Although many people have questioned the relevance of the association given that these countries have attained their independence, Secretary General Dr William Shija said through their meetings, the members try to reinforce the separation of powers among the executive, legislature and the judiciary.
This measure of checks and balances he observed was still lacking in many countries, a situation that justifies their engagement where they are able to compare notes and adopt the ideal government practices.
“The CPA is a school of parliamentarians where every member is free to learn either through communication, contact or any interaction that they may have,”Dr Shija said while also calling on the media to support the event.