The Socialist International organised two specific roundtable discussions highlighting the most crucial challenges facing the people of the African continent on 21 January 2006 in Bamako, capital of Mali, one of the venues of this year’s World Social Forum, WSF.
The first of these discussions, held within the framework of the WSF, centred on advancing the democratic agenda in Africa today and had as its keynote speakers Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, President of the Malian Parliament and Leader of the Assembly for Mali, RPM; Ben Ulenga, Leader of the Congress of Democrats, CoD, in Namibia; Tidiane Traoré, Spokesman of the Guinean People’s Assembly, RPG; Gabriel Nze Angue, Member of the National Executive Bureau of the Convergence for Social Democracy, CPDS in Equatorial Guinea; Abderrahman Lamrani, MP and Member of the Executive Bureau of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, USFP, in Morocco and Guy Labertit from the Socialist Party of France. Luis Ayala, Secretary General of the SI, introduced and moderated the discussions. Good governance, the strengthening of democratic institutions and free and fair elections were underlined by all participants as key to the advancement and consolidation of democracy, and necessary for the removal of sources of conflict and under-development in the continent.
The second roundtable focused on overcoming poverty and hunger and achieving sustainable development and included former Prime Minister of Mali, Mandé Sidibé, Vice-President of Adema-Pasj; Mahamadou Issoufou, Leader of the Party for Democracy and Socialism of Niger, PNDS; Maria Sinaceur, Member of the Executive Bureau of the USFP in Morocco; and Bakaly Keita, MP for the Guinean People’s Assembly, RPG, as keynote speakers. During the discussions great emphasis was placed on the need to develop human resources for effective management of the economy and on social development as necessary for overcoming poverty and ensuring sustainable development.
Both roundtables stimulated enthusiastic debate and included open exchanges between participants and members of a large audience. The following day, on 22 January, African delegates from SI member parties gathered for consultations on political developments in the region and the Socialist International’s efforts on the continent. A next meeting of the SI Africa Committee to take place in Niger, as an expression of solidarity with the people of that country, was agreed by participants