Published On: Mon, Nov 26th, 2012

Calls for unity and solidarity at ACP parliament session

PARAMARIBO, Suriname – For the first time since its inception in 2005, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) Parliamentary Assembly has been addressed by heads of state.

At the opening of the 30th session on Saturday here in Paramaribo, the presidents of host country Suriname and Guyana, Desi Bouterse and Donald Ramotar respectively, called for greater unity and solidarity among ACP member states.

While chairman of the ACP parliamentary meeting, Musikari Kombo, stressed the need for strengthening and deepening of regional integration, Bouterse noted, "In the face of common challenges, unity and solidarity remain the key vehicles to overcome obstacles to our shared progress.”

Ramotar, his Guyanese counterpart and a special guest at the meeting, told the audience that the ACP has to broaden its relationship with the European partners, "but we have to look at our own interest".

Ramotar also called for greater unity within the ACP Group. He noticed that there are attempts to form the ACP into different political groups similar to the situation in the European parliament.

"I think it will be a mistake for us to go in that direction," the Guyanese leader said.

The ACP is aware that there are various political views among the representatives, which according to Ramotar is natural. The African, Caribbean and Pacific nations, however, have one thing in common that unites the member states as a group fighting for a better life for their peoples.

"We must not allow ourselves to be divided into different political blocs. As ACP we are a power and a force to be dealt with," he added.

According to Bouterse, the ACP group finds itself at a crossroads. The Agenda for Change, formulated in 2011 has profound and immediate impact, he said.

"Indeed there is reason to believe that the very existence of the Organization is in danger," Bouterse noted.

He further argued that regional integration remains an important vehicle for the development of the ACP regions and countries, and called for new ways of cooperation.

In his address, ACP's parliamentary president Kombo advised the government leaders to take the lead in improving governance, judicial and security systems. Special attention must be made to promote the rights of women, children and the elderly. There also must be zero tolerance for war, ethnic division and corruption.

By Ivan Cairo
Caribbean News Now 

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