KHARTOUM, (Sudanow)—After it has changed its title from transitional to permanent in compliance with a resolution the Arab Summit that was held in Bagdad in 2011, the Arab Parliament is faced, in this stage, with tremendous challenge, foremost of which is coping with aspirations of the Arab peoples for unity and integration in addition to handling the political and social crises provided that the Parliament remains the voice that articulates the hopes and ambitions of the Arab peoples apart from the Arab governments. The Statute of the permanent Arab Parliament stipulates that, in the future, its Member should be elected direct by the people and should not necessarily be nominated by the national parliament.
While he was in Khartoum for participation in the recent conference of the councils union of the member states of the Islamic Cooperation Organization, Arab Parliament Speaker Ali al-Jurwan spoke to SUDANOW on issues related to his Parliament.
The discourse ran as follows:-
SUDANOW:- The Arab Parliament has been transformed from a transitional to a permanent one. What’s the significance of this change?
Jurwan:- The Arab Parliament was in fact born about seven years ago as a transitional Arab parliament by the Arab Algiers summit of 2005 in response to a proposal by former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mussa. It remained in this status for five years as a test period that was renewed for another two years in view of the positive development and significant role. By the end of the transitional seven-year period, it was reborn in the Bagdad Arab summit of 2011 when my parliamentary colleagues elected me as speaker. We look forward laying down foundations for unity of the Arab nation.
Q:- The Arab public attaches lofty aspirations to the Arab Parliament. What plan do you have for living up to those aspirations?
A:- As a matter of fact, we have drawn up with the working team (representatives of the office staff) primary plans for action in accordance with objectives that helps us reach the cherished goals of formation of the Arab Parliament for unifying the Arab rank and joint Arab action and shaping a common platform for formulation of resolutions for unification of the Arab nation under one banner and one state. This task is not strange for the Arabs but requires time. We have made a positive start and we intend to leave a message to those succeed that the parliamentary action is a joint one and that members of the Arab Parliament do not represent he Arab countries but the Arab peoples and support the joint Arab action notion. Its members must live up to the responsibility.
Q:- To what extent can th Arab Parliament coordinate with the Arab parliamentarians with regards to communication with regional and international parliaments to reflect its image to the public?
A:- There are many members of the Arab public who know nothing about the Arab Parliament, a matter which implies the need for reflecting the image of this Parliament to them. Moreover, joint committees will be formed to serve as ambassadors to disseminate the main lines and objectives of the Parliament. Another step provides for building bridges with the surrounding regional and international parliaments and unions like the European Parliament, the African Parliament, the Islamic Conference Union and the International Union for coordination with them with respect to the Arab causes.
Q:- Can the Arab Parliament a disposition and weight of an international influence?
A:- We hope to make the Arab Parliament reach a global standard with an international personality through communication with the United Nations and other international institutions so as to have an influential voice in the decision-making in conformity with the internal Arab regimes and laws. We are not planning to have dominance over other countries but, rather, we intend to concentrate within the Arab countries for unification and cohesion of the Arab public.
We assume a positive role for the positive interest by posing some questions to people related to the Arab Parliament which even entitled to question societies in case of a shortcoming or an act that divides rather than unifies. Our role in the Parliament is to focus on the positive aspects, including our presence in international forums and getting support by Arab parliamentarians, dignitaries and thinkers for participation in the international arena to represent the Arab peoples and consider the Arab issues in a wise way rather than from partisan, extremist and group viewpoints, but from the overall outlook of the Arab future.
Q:- Does the Parliament have a plan for unification of the legislations in the Arab countries?
A:- Yes. We have started drawing out a plan for issuing legislations which are applicable all over the Arab word. Those legislations, which will be submitted to the Arab leaders, include, for intake, the rights of the retarded legislation which we intend to unify in all of the Arab countries. E plan to begin with legislations and programmes that enjoy an Ara consensus from the Atlanic Ocean to the Arab Gulf.
Q: what are the aspects of cooperation with the international and regional parliaments?
A:- We are not thinking of concluding agreements and taking decision on behalf of the Arab peoples but there are political rules in the Arab world and our role, as consultants, is to explore the future and consider what others want us to be. The issues we intend to discuss include importation of the non-Arab man-power, a matter which does not serve the Arab integration and Arab security. Instead of importing non-Arab man-power, we should concentrate on constructing factories in that man-power’s home countries. The Sudan is the Arab food basket and is rich in natural resources and therefore, companies of a security influence should be established, employing Arab-Arab manpower and maintaining balances between communities. There are some gauges that will be presented for discussion for strengthening future cooperation.
Q:- The Arab region is currently passing through political and social crises. What role is the Arab Parliament playing?
A:- Yes, it’s true that the Arab world is experiencing political and social crises and the Arab Parliament will help overcome those crises. We have set a plan and broad lines aimed at concentrating on points of agreement among the Arab peoples and between the Arab leaderships and on the points of strength to make of those points a solid base on which we stand to build a concrete foundation. We respect the internal policies of the Arab countries and we do not interfere in the domestic affairs like the political issues or the problems in the Arab world. Instead, we work for reaching a better and best situation without siding with one party against another and, of course, we respect the Arab public.
Q:- How do you view the situation in Syria?
A:- Regretfully, we in the Arab world, get together and talk to each other when our relations are good and stay away from each other and do not talk to each other when our relations are bad, while the opposite is requested. When there is a problem, all parties should sit down together for dialogue. The developments in Syria are being followed with concern by the Arabs and the entire world, but as an Arab Parliament, we do not want to implicate ourselves in this quagmire. We support the Syrian people and their unity and safeguarding the integrity of the Syrian state. We stand against the bloodshed and for safeguarding the dignity of the Syrian people. I will not say we are incapable of finding a solution but the Arab Parliament cannot take sides as countries are taking different positions towards the conflict.
Q:- What was the response to an appeal for establishing a fund in support of the Syrian refugees?
A:- The response to this appeal was certainly great, not through the Arab Parliament but as a result of conviction by the Arab leaders. HM King Abdulla has donated 10 million dollars and Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayd 5 million dollars. The Arab leaders are generous, concerned with peoples’ causes and are united. The Arab Parliament is planning to prepare a study for establishing an emergency fund for the natural disasters that occur in the Arab world.
Q:-How do you view the Sudanese-Emirates parliamentary relations?
A:- On the peoples’ level, the Sudanese and Emiratis are one people, while on the leadership level, the Emirate leadership stands among the countries supporting the Sudan. I hail the distinguished relations between the two countries in all spheres.
Q:- Islam and Muslims are being targeted. What’s your role in countering this hostile position?
A:- We certainly denounce this impudence against Islam and we demand laying down international laws that incriminate molestation of religious symbols. Insulting beliefs and faiths results in an adverse impact on humanity because they led to extremism and animosity among peoples. Sects should respect each other and each group has its own rights. The Muslim women conference that was held in Khartoum displayed good tidings with regards to work by the woman and her participation in politics, bearing in mind that women increasingly outnumber men, as shown by the statistics. The Muslim woman has begun playing a positive role in the public life. We are calling for unity and solidarity of the Muslims for playing a positive role in the international arena and for contribution to the interest of humanity so that their rights and values are respected.
Q:- How do you rate the resolutions by the conference of the union of the councils of the member states in the Islamic Cooperation Organization?
A:- The conference was certainly very important under the developments in the Arab and Muslim countries. The region is experiencing grave crises such as the one now taking place in Mali. It is a good thing that the Arabs and Muslims get together for taking decisions in the interests of the Arab and Muslim peoples, provided that those decisions are respected. We should not be subordinate to foreign agenda. It is good to have such positive groupings and meetings because they signal a message to others that the Arabs and Muslims are in agreement and hold conference and maintain presence in the political arena for taking decisions in the interest of humanity at large.
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