Member Parliaments of the Parliamentary Union of the Organisation of Islamic States (OIC) known as the PUIC have urged their States to establish a new economic system based on solidarity to achieve development and deepen regional and international cooperation.

This call is part of the Tehran Declaration made by Member States attending the 13thSession of the PUIC held in the capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran from the 16th-17thJanuary, 2018.

The National Assembly of The Gambia was represented by a delegation comprising Hon. Momodou L. K. Sanneh, Deputy Speaker and head of delegation, Hon. Fakebba Colley, Member for Kiang West, and Hon. Ousman Sillah, Member for Banjul North.

The PUIC summit, in the declaration, urges its Member States to “set up a platform for enhancing economic, commercial, financial and banking relations, without distinction between peoples while providing equitable conditions for attaining the sought economic growth and increasing local production, raising the volume of inter-state exports, and consequently helping create productive job opportunities in national economies and accelerate the pace of economic progress towards combating poverty and meeting the other objectives enunciated in the MDGs document.”

The Gambian delegation, in their statement presented by Hon. Ousman Sillah, noted that “The Gambia, as a Sovereign Republic, wishes to renew its commitment to the core principles and objectives enshrined in the PUIC Statutes and OIC Charter which in essence are geared towards promoting and strengthening cooperation and coordination among the OIC Member Parliaments as well as solidarity, unity, peace, development and prosperity of Muslims and the Islamic Ummah.”

He added that The Gambia joined the PUIC in 2009 but has not been proactive in its role as a fully-fledged Member State of this important international organisation which seeks to “create a better, peaceful and prosperous world for Muslims and for humanity at large.”

He reminded the conference that The Gambia has a new political dispensation which is a transition to build the foundation for a solid democratic Nation with robust institutions that guarantee good governance, rule of law and human rights. He therefore called on the members countries of the PUIC to support The Gambia in her quest to build a democratic, united and prosperous nation, adding that Gambia should also develop her capacities to be able to share and give support and solidarity to other OIC member countries thus adding value to the Ummah.

The Gambian delegation was very instrumental in leading the campaign among the African group of countries which led to the election of Hon. Cheikh Mouhamad Khoureichi Niasse, a Senegalese National Assembly Member, as the new Secretary General of the PUIC, replacing Prof. Erol Kilic of Turkey, who had completed a second five year term as head of the organisation.

In explaining one of the reasons why the Gambia supported the candidature of Senegal for the position of PUIC Secretary General, Hon. Sillah said “Senegal and The Gambia are from a sub-region that has been enjoying and still continues to enjoy religious tolerance and peaceful cohabitation not only of people between different faiths but within the same religion. These are countries which have a Muslim majority but the Christian minority lives peacefully with their fellow compatriots in mutual respect and harmony.” He added that they believe “having a Secretary General from such a place and who is imbued with this value and virtue of tolerance is going to positively resonate in his work for the Union and to inspire leaders in the Muslim world.”

The other important factor which needs mentioning, according to Hon. Sillah, is that the new PUIC Secretary General (Hon. Niasse) is coming from a region which has been at the receiving end of the tragedies resulting from the attempts by the young people to take the irregular migration route to Europe in search of a better future. “Of course the root cause of this problem is unemployment, poverty and war, in some cases, which need to be urgently addressed,” he added.

He expressed hope that the new team at the head of the organisation (PUIC) would also focus on addressing the issues such as the irregular migration, terrorist threat and religious extremism which are affecting countries in all the three geographical regions of the Union i.e. the Africa, the Arab and the Asian Groups.

The Gambian delegation also noted that the Assembly supports the Palestinian cause for their right to self-determination and to become an Independent State while expressing concern and calling for every effort to be made by the Ummah to ensure the immediate end of the wars presently raging in Syria and Yemen to avert the untold suffering and great loss of innocent lives, particularly of women and children in these countries.

Speaking during the formal opening of the 13th Session on Tuesday, 16 January, HE Dr. Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, said the formation of a Palestinian government and the realisation of social and economic development in Muslim countries would help bring peace and security to the regions. “The main reason behind the instability and insecurity in the Middle East is the continued occupation of Palestine,” said the Iranian President.

Harping on closer collaboration in his statement during the closing session, the Speaker of Iranian Parliament, Dr. Ali Larijani, the host of the summit and who now holds the Presidency of the PUIC, called for stronger economic cooperation between OIC members states and thanked Mali which had held the presidency before Iran.

The Gambian delegation proposed a resolution, which was adopted, calling for the PUIC to increase the collaboration with all the regional organisations in which its member states are part of such as ECOWAS, AU, etc. with a view to taking common position at the international level on important matters affecting their respective member countries.

Proposed by the Gambian delegation and seconded by Cameroon with the support of all the others, the African Group elected Hon. Ousman Sillah from The Gambia and three other members from Burkina Faso, Benin and Niger to represent the region of 17 countries in the 12 member Specialised Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Foreign Relations in the Parliamentary Union of the Organisation of Islamic Conference for 2018.

The Gambia is also represented in the PUIC General Committee for 2018 by honourables Colley and Sillah.

A range of political and economic issues facing the Muslim world were discussed during the various sessions which were held from 13th – 17th January 2018 and resolutions made on Political Affairs and Foreign Relations, Economic Affairs and Environment, Human Rights, Women and Family, Cultural and Legal Affairs and Dialogue of Civilisations and Religions and also a Communique on Palestine.

The Tehran Declaration also condemns terrorism as a belief, thought and practice and urged member state governments to develop their cooperation with a view to rooting out all forms and manifestations of terrorism by drawing upon the expertise and experiences acquired in this regard.

It also condemned the unilateral decision by the President of the US in recognizing Al-Quds or Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in contravention of international law and as a threat to world peace.

The conference was attended by delegations from 44 Parliaments, including 16 speakers and 14 deputy speakers as well as representatives of regional and international organisations.

It was announced that the 14th Session in 2019 will be hosted by the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of Burkina Faso was nominated to host the 15th PUIC conference in the following year.

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