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Speaker urges leaders to commit to principles, values of democracy

By Elsie Appiah-Osei

Accra, Sept. 29, GNA – Mr Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, the Speaker of Parliament, has urged leaders, especially those of Africa, to commit themselves to the principles and values of democracy to bring peace to the world.

“Today democracy is in crisis across the world due to an upsurge in terrorism, conflicts and military takeovers,” he said.

Mr Bagbin said this at a press conference in Parliament on Thursday ahead of the upcoming 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC), to be held in Accra.

Themed: “The Commonwealth Charter 10 Years On: Values and Principles for Parliaments to Uphold,” the seven-day conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) will discuss global parliamentary and political issues.

It is the largest annual gathering of Commonwealth parliamentarians to be hosted by Ghana, scheduled for Saturday, September 30, to Friday, October 6, 2023, at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC).

Each year, the conference is hosted by a different Commonwealth parliament.

The CPA, previously known as the Empire Parliamentary Association, is an organisation working to support good governance, democracy and human rights.

In 1989 the patron of the CPA was the Head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II.

As one of the oldest Commonwealth organisations, the CPA was founded in 1911 with the mission to promote parliamentary democracy by enhancing knowledge and understanding of democratic governance, youth engagement in democracy, gender equality and equal representation.

Presently, there are 54 countries in the Commonwealth Association, in which 164 CPA branches are parliaments and legislatures, with a total membership of 18,000 parliamentarians and legislators.

Mr Bagbin cited the United States of America, being a beacon of democracy, was experiencing upsurge in terrorism, with concerns over the Russian-Ukraine conflict, tension along the Korean peninsula and coup d’etats plaguing some countries in the West African sub-region.

“…So, we are like getting the usual triangular axis of a world war and we need to rededicate and commit ourselves to the principles and values of democracy to be able to bring peace to the world,” he said.

“If we write the wrongs, nobody will be risking a life to go and overthrow another person who is well-armed. The military themselves suffer more than the civilian population during military regimes as lots of them lose their lives and even after the takeover, face suspicion and mistrust.”

The Speaker urged political leaders to take the diverse disturbances plaguing the world seriously and see how best they could speed up reforms to regain their trust with their people and confidence in their leadership.

He urged all stakeholders, including the media, for efforts at peace building and educating the populace on their democratic rights.

“We are not just moving towards democratic consolidation, but we are also talking about entrenchment of the democratic practices and principles so that they become like a culture for people to willingly conduct themselves.”

Mr Bagbin said the conference, aimed at fostering dialogue and cooperation among member countries, would emphasise the importance of parliamentary diplomacy in addressing global challenges.

More than 700 delegates, including speakers and presiding officers, clerks-to-parliament and parliamentary staff are expected to attend from 56 national legislatures.

One hundred and one other sub-national branches (state and provincial legislatures) across the nine geographic regions of the Commonwealth would also participate.

“The adoption of Ghana as a host country came because of the 64th edition held in Kampala. The 66th edition is being held under my patronage as the Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, the President of the CPA and the President of the Ghana Branch of the Association.”

The conference would officially be opened on Wednesday, October 4, under the patronage of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and the Vice-Patron of the CPA as the keynote speaker.

Aside from other workshops and meetings, a host nation’s workshop would be organised by Ghana to deliberate on the topic: “Combating the threat of terrorism to Statehood: The Role of Parliament,” and will have Mr Albert Kan Dappah, the Minister for National Security, leading the discussions.

Mr Bagbin said as part of efforts to promote Ghana by showcasing the natural resource endowments, history, culture and traditions to the international community, some tourist sites had been identified for visit by the delegates on Tuesday, October 3.

He cited the Cape Coast Castle, Kakum National Park, a cultural durbar at Manhyia Palace, Akosombo Hydroelectric Dam, and boat cruise to the Dodi Island and Bisa Aberwa Museum as side attractions.

Mr Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, is the Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of the CPA, with Dr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, the Minority Leader, being the Chairman of the Ghana Branch of the Association.