President of the Union of Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union (AU), President Azali Assoumani has reiterated, at the opening of the ordinary session of the Sixth Parliament held in Midrand, South Africa, under the AU theme for 2023, “Accelerating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)” that for Africa to develop, it need relative peace and stability.
That it was necessary with determination to work in favor of the defense of the interests of the African peoples as the continental legislators seek to work in close collaboration with African governments and other AU institutions, including the Pan-African Parliament, for more peace and progress in continent.
He, however, encouraged African legislators to help establish appropriate conditions to promote socio-economic development in the continent. “Our continent has many natural resources with the potential to become one of the largest markets in the world. With the appropriate conditions, we can promote socio-economic development for a sustainable economy. We have succeeded to set up the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and it has become our continental priority,” he underlined.
Assoumani also underscored the fact that for Africa to develop and grow, peace and stability must prevail. “It is clear that in addition to terrorist threats, unconstitutional changes of government, the war in Sudan has worsened the situation. Not only does this war create chaos in this country, but it risks destabilising an already fragile region, with all the consequences this may have on the people,” he explained.
On this aspect, it is necessary to unite efforts and agree on the actions to be implemented, to convince the warring parties to reach a ceasefire in order to have negotiations, he said, and encouraged Africans to work together in order to achieve a common desire for peace, stability and development.
On his part, Pan-African Parliament President, Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira noted that parliament has, in the past eleven months, made significant strides in the fulfilment of its mandate. He further emphasised on the need for the AU to reconnect with the African citizenry. “Linking to grassroots in Africa is even more imperative for the pan-African parliament which was undoubtedly established with this very objective in mind. A parliament is not a parliament if it is remote and inaccessible to the people. A parliament is not a parliament if its agenda does not respond to the people’s hopes, ideals and aspirations,” said Charumbira.
He reported that this was one of the major outcomes of the strategic reorientation workshop that was convened last year. The workshop refocused the pan-African parliament’s attention on impactful deliverables that affect citizens. The agreement was that the continental parliament ought to be for the greater good of the people.
Addressing the plenary session, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Hon. Candith Mashego-Dhlamini disclosed that her government is encouraged by the deliberations of the parliament on the implementation of the AfCFTA and its specific focus on the significant role that the African parliamentarians could play in its acceleration.
“You may recall that during the Summit held on 19 – 20 February this year, the Heads of State adopted three protocols to the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, namely, on competition policy, investment as well as on intellectual property rights. We look up to the parliamentarians to facilitate the ratification of these protocols so that they may be integrated into national legislation, thus providing a legal basis to underpin an effective single market for Africa, and meaningful market access across the AfCFTA for the private sector, especially the SMMEs led by women and young entrepreneurs,” strongly noted Mashego-Dhlamini.
Mandated with facilitating the implementation of policies, objectives, and programmes of the AU, and overseeing their execution by the various organs of the Union, the parliamentarian session focused on the unbundling of the AfCFTA agreement and the strategies put by the legislative arm of the African Union to accelerate the landmark accord. Over 250 African parliamentarians convened for the session to devise ways to fast-track the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), in line with the African Union (AU) theme for 2023.