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March 21, 2004
Inaugural Session of PAP Ends on Positive Note

The first session of the Pan African Parliament ended with high expectations. The successful establishment of this great body is considered miraculous by many who dared to dream. Too many things could have gone wrong and stopped it from ever being born. It was created without violence, and its new members demonstrated from the very start that they have a sense of urgency and a grasp of the fundamental issues that need addressing in Africa. The members came ready to do business and did not waste time tabling proposals to resolve Africa's problems.

AU President, G.I Mongella
After the completion of the elections of the Vice Presidents of the Pan African Parliament, members of the PAP set up ad hoc committees on Procedures, Credentials and the Budget of the PAP. Members recommended that a Foreign Affairs Committee and the Elections committee be set up. After a while Dr. Frene Ginwala had to advise that "recommendations members have must wait for the next session of the Pan African Parliament." The Credentials Committee, will liaise with Parliament's Secretariat (AU Commission), Accreditations, Negotiations and contacts with other institutions in Africa and internationally.

During a debate on the role of the PAP, representative Ndaweni Mahlangu expressed confidence that it would deliver on the hopes of the continent's people. "They are looking to us to deliver a better life, from hunger, underemployment and unnecessary conflict," he said. These challenges, he said could be addressed through dialogue, consultation, tolerance and mutual help and sharing. Mr Mahlangu said Africa was taking charge of its economic situation through the economic recovery plan, NEPAD. "As parliamentarians, we should ask ourselves how we are going to engage with NEPAD programmes, I hope our newly established Parliament will guide us," he said.

President Gertrude Mongella told delegates that the PAP was a new organ, which needed to function smoothly. "We are creating a new Parliament, and a lot of things are not in place yet. Those who come after us will find everything on the table," she said.

Speaking at the closing session Mongella said the AU Commission would be asked to prepare a budget for the Parliament to continue its work. Mongella said this budget should cover the activities for the rest of the year.

The next session of the PAP, will be convened after the July summit of African Heads of States, for a period of ten working days. Mongella said the next session of the Pan African Parliament would follow an agenda to be set by the AU Commission.

Ms Mongella congratulated members for being elected as founding members of the PAP and said the people of Africa expected much of the parliament. "Let the honeymoon not continue for too long, therefore if it is business as usual, it will mount to a betrayal of those who elected us," she cautioned. The founding PAP President added that the continent could not remain trapped in a cycle of poverty, conflict and economic marginalisation. "As we wind up our business here today, we should carry a message of hope to the people whom we represent back home," she said in her closing remarks.

The two-day session ended yesterday on March 20, 2004. African Union President Gertrude Mongella arrived today from Addis Ababa to a massive welcome in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Mongella was met at the airport by thousands of celebrating people as she stepped off the plane. She was regaled with flowers as she pressed through a throng of women who were hugging and reaching for her.     

The PAP has plans to schedule a third session before the end of December 2004, the protocol requires it to meet at least twice a year.