, NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 14 – Members of Parliament from Great Lakes member states will meet in Nairobi next week to discuss political and security challenges in the region.
Kenya’s Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro said the Fifth Ordinary Plenary Assembly of the 12 member International Conference on the Great Lakes Region is slated to be held between January 20 and 22.
“Parliaments are Houses for debates when you have forums like this one, it’s basically to look at the situation within our region,” he added.
“So the meeting is in two formats, the Executive which mulls over the main issues of the forum then there is the reporting back mechanisms and also there will be a meeting of the Speakers and then they will be the plenary sessions.”
Angola, Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya are the member countries.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to inaugurate the regional conference while Kenya’s National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Ethuro are among those listed to address the Assembly.
The meeting will focus on the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and South Sudan that have been affected by endless conflicts between the states and rebel militias.
Ethuro says the forum will also discuss the political and security implications the Somalia militia Al Shabaab poses to the region.
“Most of the issues we are talking about are really politically instigated conflicts, the issue of Al Shabaab is a global issue about terrorism and of course we will discuss it in terms of the political and security situation in our respective countries. As you can appreciate it we seem to be doing much better at handling Ebola than terrorism,” said the Senate Speaker who is the conference convener.
Also expected to be laid on the table of the plenary is the role of Parliaments of member states of the ICGLR in the fight against the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Great Lakes region and the implementation of related international and regional legal instruments.
The third challenge to be deliberated at the conference is the spiralling youth unemployment across the Great Lakes Region.
The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) is an inter-governmental organisation of the countries in the African Great Lakes Region.
Its establishment was based on the recognition that political instability and conflicts in these countries have a considerable regional dimension and thus require a concerted effort in order to promote sustainable peace and development.