Monday 20th October, 2014
SEYCHELLES AND GERMAN PARLIAMENTS SET TO STRENGTHEN TIES
The National Assembly of Seychelles and the German Bundestag have agreed in principle to strengthen their relationship through the setting up of a Parliamentary Friendship Association.
This followed a working visit to the Bundestag by a delegation of Seychelles parliamentarians led by the Speaker, Hon. Dr. Patrick Herminie and accompanied by Hon. Jeniffer Vel, the Vice-Chairperson of the International Affairs Committee, Ms Shelda Commettant, the Ag. Clerk to the National Assembly and the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Seychelles in Frankfurt, Mr. Maximilian Hunzinger.
During talks with Professor Norbert Lammert, President of the Bundestag, both sides agreed to strengthen partnership through exchange visits. The President of the Bundestag further pledged support for the National Assembly to strengthen its capacity building, both for Members of the National Assembly and staff of the Secretariat.
It is to be noted that the German democracy is one of the most respected in Europe and the Bundestag offers youth exchange programmes and international parliamentary scholarship to other parliaments, as well as, training for journalists attached to parliament.
The Speaker, Dr. Patrick Herminie, who along with the delegation also conducted a tour of the Bundestag, said that he was particularly impressed with its infrastructure as well as it rules and procedures.
From Berlin, the delegation went to Geneva to attend the 131st Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) held under the theme “Achieving Gender Equality, Ending Violence against Women”. The IPU is the International Organisation of Parliaments and regroups all parliaments of the world. It was established 1889.
The Speaker addressed the Assembly of that session and called on the IPU to put in place the necessary legal and policy framework to ensure women empowerment and gender equality. He reminded the conference that Seychelles is an example where women had been empowered without having an affirmative system in place. He attributed Seychelles’ impressive statistics of women representation in leadership to decades of pursuing a people-centred policy of free health care, free education up to tertiary level, proper shelter and salary parity with men.
He warned, however, that new challenges such as HIV/AIDS and substance abuse could threaten to erode our achievements and lamented the fact that domestic base violence still persist in the Seychelles. He called on all countries present to immediately ratify the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. He put the conference on guard that whilst we strive to promote women we must always ensure that men be given the necessary support lest gender issue becomes a crisis of masculinity.
The 131st Assembly of the IPU also saw the first meeting of the Forum of Young Parliamentarians where Seychelles was represented by Hon. Jeniffer Vel. The meeting further elected a new President – the 28th of the organization in its 125 years history – Mr. Saber Chowdhury, a Member of Parliament from Bangladesh.