Ghana’s former President and African Union High Representative for Somalia, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, says Africa failed to prevent excesses sponsored by some members of the international community during political upheavals in countries such as Libya and Cote d’Ivoire.
President Rawlings said the political movements in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Cote d’Ivoire challenged the capacity of the African Union as far as conflict resolution was concerned and called for an urgent corrective mechanism so the “blood and toil of those who laid down their lives to seek change do not go to waste”.
In an address as special guest at the Sixth Ordinary Session of the Pan-African Parliament in Addis Ababa on Monday, President Rawlings called on the continental Parliamentary body to take strong positions on African issues and allow itself to be heard.
President Rawlings who was appointed Ambassador of the Pan-African Parliament in October 2011, lamented a harrowing situation in Egypt where illegal immigrants are abducted, enslaved and some killed through the removal of some of their organs. He said though the report was published by the CNN months ago action it had not been taken up and called on the Pan-African Parliament and other AU organs to thoroughly investigate the report.
The AU High Representative also expressed the world’s disappointment over the renewed violence in Egypt.
He said: “We should be particularly concerned about the situation in Egypt where the pain and agony that the people endured in Tahir Square and other cities, is repeating itself a few months down the line. It is obvious the very oppressive machinery the revolution sought to displace has re-emerged and under the guise of national security, ordinary Egyptians are again facing assault and brutalities reminiscent of what happened in January and February last year in Tahir Square and other cities across the country.”
Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi who was the Guest of Honour commended President Rawlings for his candour and called on the Pan-African Parliament to table the concerns raised in the former Ghanaian President’s address to the Assembly of Heads of State when it meets at the end of January.
Please find attached the full text of President Rawlings’ address.
ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY JERRY JOHN RAWLINGS, FORMER PRESIDENT OF GHANA AND AFRICAN UNION HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR SOMALIA AT THE SIXTH ORDINARY SESSION OF THE PAN-AFRICAN PARLIAMENT – ADDIS ABABA, JANUARY 16, 2012
Your Excellency Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Guest of Honour, Right Honourable Moussa Idriss Ndele, President of the Pan-African Parliament, Excellences, Honourable members of the Pan-African Parliament, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I wish to express my gratitude to the Pan-African Parliament for offering me the opportunity once again, to share my thoughts on an important occasion such as the Sixth Ordinary Session which has been convened on the theme: “Transformation of the Pan-African Parliament into a legislative organ.”
Having taking time to study and examine the overview of the review process of the protocol relating to the Pan-African Parliament and the treaty establishing the African Economic Community, it is obvious a lot of work has gone into reviewing the relevance of the Pan-African Parliament to make it a more recognizable organ of influence on the continent and more relevant to the changing face of politics in Africa and beyond.
The process of transforming the institution into a legislative one, albeit in a progressive manner, faces difficulties because some member states believe the continent is not ready for a Pan-African Parliamentary body with full or even limited legal powers.
Ladies and gentleman, this latest challenge means the Pan-African Parliament has been compelled to adopt lobbying at various levels in its quest to ensure the transformation process is not derailed.
During the last meeting of the Speakers of the Parliament in Midrand, South Africa, I expressed my support for a transformed body with the legal capacity to institute policies that will strengthen Parliaments across the continent and embolden them to play the role of being a common platform for Africa peoples and their grassroots organisations, as enshrined in the Pan-African Parliament charter.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and gentlemen, while the campaign for the transformation of the Pan-African Parliament into a legislative organ takes steam, it is imperative that the Parliament even in its advisory state enhances its image and reputation by taking strong positions on issues on the continent and allow itself to be heard.
Matters for discussion at the Sixth Ordinary Session include presentations and debate on the state of the African Union as well as Peace and Security.
These two issues I am convinced will dominate discussions during meetings of the Executive Council and the Assembly of Heads of State later this month. It is thus important that deliberations during this session set the stage for discussions during the upcoming summits.
Africa has over the past 12 months experienced political upheavals of a massive nature and the action or inaction of the African Union and its various organs has brought to question the future of this body established with most noble intentions.
From Tunisia through Egypt to Libya and even in Ivory Coast there were political movements of different nature that challenged the institution established to engender African unity, peace and development.
While majority of us were delighted by the will of the people to take their destiny into their own hands, we were taken aback by the failure of the continent to prevent excesses in countries such as Libya and Ivory Coast.
Our collective drawback is something that has to be corrected with some sense of urgency and drive so the blood and toil of those who laid down their lives to seek change do not go to waste.
We should be particularly concerned about the situation in Egypt where the pain and agony that the people endured in Tahir Square and other cities, is repeating itself a few months down the line. It is obvious the very oppressive machinery the revolution sought to displace has re-emerged and under the guise of national security, ordinary Egyptians are again facing assault and brutalities reminiscent of what happened in January and February last year in Tahir Square and other cities across the country. For how long are we going to be silent observers? And yet the revolutions by the unarmed civilian populations in Tunisia and Egypt gave the world so much hope that freedom and justice was finally going to triumph. How do we then turn around and assault that resolve in the manner currently being observed by all?
A few months ago the CNN Freedom Project published an expose on the cruel abduction and removal of human parts from illegal immigrants trying to pass through Egypt into Israel. Bedouin smugglers trafficking humans reportedly remove the human parts while the immigrants are still alive. Immigrants are enslaved, tortured and those who cannot afford to pay huge sums to these smugglers face the ultimate penalty of a dehumanizing death through organ removal! And Africa is quiet?
Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot allow this level of depravity to continue on our continent without seeking answers and calling for thorough investigations to get to the bottom of the matter. These are the issues that the Pan-African Parliament should be forcefully questioning, to make itself more relevant to the people of the continent and justify its quest to become a legislative organ. It is not too late and I hope and pray that you will look into this matter and call on other organs of the AU to also take a cue.
Parliament as an organ of state or of a continent, as yours is, is primarily an institution that serves not only as a law-making body but which also crystalizes the separation of powers concept that democracy prides itself in. Parliament serves as an anti-corruption organ looking into the activities of other institutions of state such as the Executive, to ensure that it takes actions that protect the rights of the people and the wealth of the state. It is thus important that at all times and purposes you remind your members who are representatives from various national parliaments that they are not an extension of the executive, elected by the people to endorse and rubber stamp every action of the executive, but to properly scrutinize and query actions of the executive and its organs in order to boost the confidence of the ordinary people of our countries in democratic governance.
Similarly the Pan-African Parliament should be empowered legally to have the capacity and responsibility of vetting the finances of the AU as all national parliaments are obligated to. That way we can offer more confidence to the donor community and allow our institutional transparency to trickle down to the rest of the continent.
Development should always be premised on justice, freedom, integrity and transparency. Had these ideals guided the huge economic and infrastructural development in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya their countries would not have endured the eruption in the people’s quest for justice and freedom.
Honourable members of African Parliaments represented here have a huge responsibility to also champion the crusade to make Africa truly African and capable of managing her affairs.
It is simply humiliating that in the 21st century our continent finds some of its leaders hounded to The Hague like lamb to the slaughter, while we are supposed to have the capacity to judge our own. We have to leave The Hague to those who cannot control their destiny. If Libyans were justified to overthrow the Gaddafi regime in their quest for freedom and justice, why then can they not try their own?
If Ivorians are truly seeking peace and reconciliation, a process agreed by both the Ouattara and Gbagbo factions, why then send a former leader who in spite of his faults has paid his dues to his country, to the ICC?
We have and have had faulty leaders but we have enough good and progressive leaders who can only succeed if institutions such as the Pan-African Parliament and national parliaments offer them the needed sense of direction and support.
The time has come to stop being observers but active participants in the changing scenes of the continent. We stand the danger of allowing a new form of colonialism to engulf our continent enslaving us into puppets of the international community. Let us combine our efforts in taking a strong stance against such a looming threat.
Your Excellences, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I cannot conclude my address without mentioning Somalia. As African Union High Representative for Somalia, I must congratulate all stakeholders from across the globe for their tremendous support in seeking peace in Somalia through the pursuit of the transitional roadmap. I am thankful also to all who supported the humanitarian effort and continue to do so. Many are yet to make good on their pledges during the Pledging Conference of last August and I serve a polite reminder to them not to forget the dire situation that millions of our people still face in the Horn of Africa.
I congratulate IGAD and particularly Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia for their renewed interest in creating a stable and peaceful Somalia. We cannot forget the pioneering role of Burundi and Uganda in the peace-enforcement process. We are also thankful to United Nations, which has played a crucial role in the progress so far. We expect more commitment in terms of enablers for AMISOM and the TFG so that this time next year we can have a more stable and politically secure Somalia.
Our dear members of Parliament from Somalia, this is a call to you and your colleagues who are not here, to give peace a chance by exploring all avenues to resolve the impasse over the removal of the Parliamentary Speaker. A lot of progress has been made on the political front and its paramount that we do not allow this standoff to sidetrack us from the progress achieved so far.
We should not allow observers to believe that we seek power at the expense of confronting the common enemy. If Al Shabaab were no longer the perceived obstacle could you the major players guarantee peace and stable governance in Somalia?
Right Honourable Idriss Ndele, Honourable members of the Pan-African Parliament, Excellences, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you a successful session and offer my unflinching support in your quest to seek a radical review of the protocols governing the Pan-African Parliament. Africa deserves strong and capable institutions and your quest is a noble one that deserves the support of everyone on the continent.
Thank you and Good Luck.