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Senate Speaker Amason Kingi on Thursday, March 31, 2023, presided over the official opening of the 13th Assembly of Speakers of the Forum of Parliaments of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (FP-ICGLR) in Juba, South Sudan.

FP-ICGLR was formed on December 4th, 2008 in Kigali, the Republic of Rwanda and has remained focused on implementing the Great Lakes Region’s Pact on Security, Stability and Development, signed on December 15th, 2006 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Speaker Kingi, who is the outgoing President of the Assembly, lauded the Executive Committee of FP-ICGLR and its various permanent committees for spearheading parliamentary efforts to address issues that concern stability and development.

“The permanent committees have been outstanding and selfless in their tasks,” the Speaker pointed out, adding that their periodic meetings, the multiple stakeholder engagement forums and exhaustive research they carry out in pursuit of sustainable solutions to problems bedeviling the region are commendable. 

“It is my contention that this not only lends a lot of credence to outcomes of their engagements but also ensures the interventions they formulate are practical, reflect the actual realities across the Great Lakes region and resonate with the needs and aspirations of our region.”

Speaker Kingi will hand over the reign of the Assembly’s presidency to Hon. Jemma Nunu Kumba, who is the Speaker of South Sudan Transitional Legislature.

Mr Kingi took over the Presidency from Rt Hon Kenneth Lusaka after he was elected Speaker following the General election held in Kenya in August 2022.

In his address to the Assembly, Mr Kingi focused on the conduct of FP-ICGLR activities in the two years Kenya has held the position.

“I want to acknowledge that the last two years have been eventful and presented us with some of the most daunting scenarios our region had yet to grapple with,” he told the Assembly

He cited the Covid-19 pandemic which almost plunged global economies into ruin and the turmoil and political instability that have been experienced in some parts of the region.

Mr Kingi revealed that through concerted efforts and with the support of international organisations and agencies, the Forum activated appropriate response mechanisms that enabled the countries in the region to lessen the impact on populations.

“Covid-19 is now largely behind us, save for lingering economic aftershocks. But our region isn’t out of the woods yet in some aspects. The issue of lack of peace and instability continues to be a painful thorn in our flesh.”

The Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan remain vulnerable to long-drawn instability that has displaced millions of citizens, who now endure extremely deplorable living conditions in camps for the Internally Displaced Populations (IDPs). 

This has presented a major humanitarian crisis across the Great Lakes region, with attendant downsides among them violation of the rights of vulnerable groups mainly women, children and people living with disabilities.