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Commonwealth meeting brings opportunities

Kadaga globetrotting to promote conference

| THE INDEPENDENT | Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga is traversing the globe in last minute efforts to rally colleagues from other parliaments to converge on Kampala for the 64th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC). She was recently in Islamabad, Pakistani, for the Asia region Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) conference that ran from July 29 to Aug.02.

Kadaga who led a delegation from Uganda used the occasion to promote the Uganda conference.  The conference is scheduled for September 22-29 at the Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo in Kampala but Kadaga wants delegates to arrive earlier – possibly a week early and leave later.

She said she wants Asian parliamentarians and legislators and their staff and families to visit Uganda’s tourist attractions, appreciate the nation’s diverse culture, and pick out souvenirs and gifts.

Earlier on July 22, she was in Morocco where she invited her counterpart, Habib Elmalki, and others to come to the conference.

It is expected that the event will bring together over1000 parliamentarians, parliamentary staff and decision makers from across the Commonwealth for the conference and networking. Delegates will come from Asia, Australia, the British Islands, Canada, the Caribbean, India, South East Asia, the Americas, and the rest of Africa.

Locally, Kadaga is selling the conference as a not to be missed business, tourism, and investment opportunity. Her team is arranging visas, hotel accommodation, transport, and exhibition spaces for Ugandans to sell locally made products to the delegates.  Kadaga’s team has organised excursions for groups of delegates to various parts of the country to see the beauty and enjoy the hospitality of Uganda.

“There is going to be money in the economy,” she said at a meeting with media managers where she appealed for their support. She said the conference is also an opportunity to market Uganda for tourism and investment.

Some delegations, such as the UK Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) are already organising an additional visits to Uganda.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) organises its annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC) each year as one of the largest gatherings of Commonwealth parliamentarians. It is a unique and valuable opportunity to network with legislators for shared-learning and to build diplomatic relations.

Kadaga, as the President of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and head of Uganda’s parliament, is hosting the event together with CPA Uganda.

Attendance is expected to be high since Kadaga is a highly respected and influential leader in the Commonwealth. She is a former chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) from 2013-2016. She is also a former Vice-Chairperson of Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (International) and Executive Committee Member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly representing Africa and former chairperson of Commonwealth Women Parliamentarian Africa Region.

The event is expected to bring together over 1000 foreign delegates at an estimated cost about Shs20 billion ($5.3 million). It is expected to be attended by Speakers and Members of Parliament from the 53 different commonwealth countries.

The conference will include the landmark 30th Anniversary Conference of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP). There will be elections for the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP), the CPA Treasurer and the CPA Small Branches chairperson for new three-year terms.

There will also be a number of additional conferences and meetings including 37th CPA Small Branches Conference; 6th triennial Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Conference; 64th CPA General Assembly; meetings of the CPA Executive Committee; and the Society of Clerks at the Table (SOCATT) meetings.

The conference programme will include conference plenaries and 10 workshops for parliamentarians, with some workshops focusing on gender, youth, and the CPA’s Small Branches.

President Yoweri Museveni also accepted an invitation from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to become the deputy patron of the Commonwealth Conference. Since 1989, the Vice-Patron of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association has traditionally been the Head of State or Government of the CPA Branch hosting the coming annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference. The patron is Queen Elizabeth OF the United Kingdom.

Issues to be discussed

The conference will be held under the theme: ‘Adaption, Engagement and Evolution in a rapidly changing Commonwealth’.  Issues to be discussed will include climate change, youth unemployment, innovations in Parliament and the role of parliaments in facilitating people with disabilities. The challenge of urbanisation, separation of powers and post-legislative issues are also on the cards.

Uganda last hosted a CPC in 1967. It is the biggest commonwealth event to be held in the country since the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting (CHOGM).  It has, however, hosted a number of high-profile Commonwealth conferences, including the 126th Inter-Parliamentary Union in 2011 and Commonwealth Youth Parliament in 2018.

These events are the culmination of almost two year-long preparations since Uganda offered to host the conference during the 2017 CPC in Dakar Bangladesh.

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Secretary General Akbar Khan praised Kadaga’s preparation in February when he visited Uganda.

According to an official statement from the CPA, the event is happening at a time of increasing focus and greater scrutiny of parliamentarians and overall distrust of parliaments. Delegates will, therefore, have an opportunity to benefit from professional development, supportive learning and sharing of best practices from colleague.

The CPA connects, develops, promotes, and supports parliamentarians and their staff to identify and benchmark good governance and implementation of enduring values of the Commonwealth.  Founded in 1911, it comprises 180 parliaments and legislatures.

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