By Hassan Isilow
Calls to fight regional terrorism dominated most speeches of special guests at the opening of the second ordinary session of the 4th Pan African Parliament (PAP) on Tuesday in Johannesburg.
Addressing members of the continental assembly, Egypt's Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Al said, “Terrorism has become a major challenge impeding socio-economic developments in most countries.’’
He said he hopes the PAP will use its position to coordinate with other African parliaments to address the growing scourge of terrorism.
‘‘We support all efforts being made in the fight against terrorism in order to protect our future and heritage,’’ Ahmad Bin Mohammed Al-Jarwan, speaker of the Arab Parliament, said in an address to African lawmakers.
He said terrorism has no connection with Islam and it is against the teachings of the faith.
There are currently several terrorist groups operating in Africa, including Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al-shabaab in Somalia, and Al-Qaida.
PAP is a legislative organ of the African Union (AU), established in 2004 with the aim of ensuring full participation of the peoples of Africa and their grassroots organizations in governance and economic integration.
Al-Jarwan further reaffirmed his cooperation on peace and security with Africa.
“We are convinced that this meeting is important for us to reach our strategic ties,’’ he said in Arabic through an English translator.
He also said his parliament hopes a consensus will be reached to stabilize Libya and Somalia, which have been gripped by civil war for many years.
Speaking at the same event, South Africa’s Minister of State Security David Mahlobo said his government strongly condemns growing acts of terrorism.
Mahlobo said his country stands firmly with the rest of the international community in its condemnation of terror attacks and reiterates its stance that terrorism, in whatever form and from whichever quarter, cannot be condoned.
Sierra Leonean Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh told legislators that it was disheartening to see conflicts holding back Africa’s development.
Foh also thanked the international community for helping his country eradicate the Ebola virus, which had spread throughout Sierra Leone, killing hundreds of people.
‘‘Sierra Leone is now Ebola free and we are on the path to economic recovery. On behalf of my President Ernest Bai Koroma, I would like to thank all the countries that helped us fight Ebola,’’ he told the deputies.
He said the spread of the Ebola virus had hugely affected the country’s economic development, as most countries had halted flights and trade with the West African nation.