NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 11 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged African Parliaments to enact laws that contribute to the eradication of poverty for people in the continent to enable them enjoy the benefits of political freedom.
President Kenyatta said for Africans to reap the freedoms of independence, and attain sustainable development, laws should protect them from poverty cycles.
He said Members of Parliament as people’s representatives, should strive to ensure inclusive debates where the interests of all Africans are incorporated.
“Let us all join hands to defend the freedoms of our socio-economic and political independence. We can honour our freedom fighters by ensuring that the virtues they stood for are respected,” the President told the opening of the 46th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (Africa region) conference at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi.
The conference brings together 400 delegates from 18 countries in the continent.
President Kenyatta, who jetted back into the country Tuesday morning after a successful State visit to Uganda, also urged Parliaments to tolerate divergent opinion of the minority and encourage debates that impact positively on the lives of citizens.
“We must have a conversation of liberty. It is our responsibility to allow our opponents to make their views openly and to listen carefully and respond calmly,” the President said.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi said Kenya’s new Constitution re-introduced a bicameral Parliament giving women, youth and people living with disabilities more voice and opportunity for representation.
Muturi, who is the President of CPA Africa region, said the combined National Assembly and Senate have 416 legislators compared to 224 in the previous Parliament.
The devolved governments, also a creation of the Constitution, have given Kenyans at the grassroots an opportunity to play a greater role in their affairs.
The chairperson of the CPA (Africa region) Executive Committee Lindiwe Maseko said the chapter intends to change its constitution to make it more responsive to the issues of the day.
Maseko asked the Africa region to prepare to make changes to its laws at the next international CPA meeting in Pakistan.
She expressed concern at the low representation of women in parliaments, saying some African countries had as low as 10 women legislators.
“Of course, some countries had done very well. Women contribute 63 per cent of Rwanda’s parliament. Cameroon, South Africa and Mozambique are some of the countries in the top ten that have attained the 30 per cent gender rule,” she said.
Others who spoke were the Senate speaker Ekwee Ethuro and the CPA Executive chairperson Committee (International) Shirin Sharmin.