By Bakary Ceesay
The Gambia has been re-elected as one of the four African countries to serve in the 12 Member Political Affairs and International Relations Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Union of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (PUIC) at its 15th Conference being held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from the 26 -31 January, 2020.
The National Assembly Parliamentary delegation to the PUIC, comprising Honourables Sainey Touray, Head of delegation, Ousman Touray, Fakebba Colley, Foday Gassama and Ousman Sillah and assisted by Mr. Landing Jobe, Director of Committees at the National Assembly and Secretary to the Committee, is representing The Gambia at this annual statutory forum of the Parliamentary Union.
This is the second time in three years that the Gambia is being elected to serve in this Standing Committee on Political Affairs and International Relations of the PUIC. The first was during the 13th PUIC Conference in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, in 2018, when the Gambia started participating again in the meetings of the Parliamentary Union after a very long absence.
As an outgoing Member of the Executive Committee of the PUIC, after having served for one term of one year in the position in 2019, and in keeping with the organisation’s succession practice, the Gambia was again proposed to serve in one of the most important organs of the organisation, the Foreign Affairs and International Relations Committee, for a period of one year. It is by virtue of her experience and for reasons of continuity that the Gambia, as an immediate past member of the Executive, was elected to this position again.
Hon. Ousman Sillah, who was representing the Gambia in the PUIC Executive Committee and in accordance with practice, will continue to represent the country in the Foreign Affairs and International Relations Standing Committee.
Also re-elected to their positions wrre Honourable Ousman Touray and Honourable Fakebba Colley who will continue to serve as the representatives of the Gambia in the General Committee of the PUIC for the year 2020.
In his solidarity statement as head of delegation, Hon. Touray hailed the principles and ideals of PUIC as an organisation than can bring about peace, unity, development and prosperity in the Ummah. He assured of Gambia's commitment to the realisation of the noble objectives of the organisation as an active and fully fledged voting member.
Hon. Ousman Touray and Hon. Fakebba Colley, on behalf of the Gambian Parliamentary delegation, submitted for consideration and adoption, through the General Assembly to the plenary, a revised version of the Resolution that it had proposed and was adopted by the Rabat Conference in 2019. The revised Resolution, which was adopted by the Ouagadougou Conference, is in effect calling for the “Formation of a high level Inter-Governmental Working Committee by the concerned PUIC member countries or governments to tackle the migration phenomenon affecting young people in the Member countries to comprise countries of origin, transit and destination of the irregular migrants to be tasked with the mandate to identify and address challenges to protect the rights of irregular migrants in their settlement, voluntary return and integration.”
The proposed Resolution presented by the Gambian delegation for consideration by the 15th PUIC Conference in Burkina Faso was finally adopted by the plenary.
The Gambian delegation also urged the organisation to ensure its relevance to the lives of the people or citizens of its Member Countries or the Ummah by going beyond the adoption of positive resolutions at plenaries to striving to give effect to these decisions through their implementation.
At the formal opening of the 15th PUIC Conference, Hon. Alassane Bala Sakande, Speaker of the National Assembly of Burkina Faso, welcomed the delegations from the respective parliaments of the PUIC Member Countries. He noted that more than 400 participants, comprising speakers and deputy speakers of parliaments, National Assembly Members and representatives of PUIC Observer organisations are in attendance.
The President of the 15th PUIC said the theme of the conference "Youth, The Future of PUIC" could not have come at a better time than now when young people in our countries are facing numerous challenges in their quest for a better future such as education, skills acquisition, employment, etc. He urged member parliaments to do more in terms of addressing the legitimate concerns of the youth who constitute more than 70% of our populations. He touched on the issues terrorism, Islamophobia, unity and peace as issues that need the urgent attention of the parliaments and governments in the Ummah.
The Secretary General of PUIC, Muhamed Khouriechi Niass, the Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the President of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) addressed the forum.
Hon. Christophe Joseph Marie Dabire, Prime Minister, graced the opening ceremony on behalf of President of Burkina Faso, H. E. Roch Marc Christian Kabore.
The plenary commenced on Wednesday, 29 January, and will culminate on Thursday, 30 January, with the adoption of the Ouaga 2020 Declaration, which entails the report, resolutions and communique.