The Socialist International held a meeting of parliamentarians from SI member parties in conjunction with the 126th IPU Assembly in Kampala, Uganda on Monday 2 April, as it has done in recent years on the occasion of those gatherings. The meeting held exchanges on the main themes of the Assembly agenda and on the strengthening of cooperation between parliamentarians from the global social democratic movement. Participants included representatives from Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Kenya, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Pakistan, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
Issues of concern on recent developments were addressed by the meeting. The situation in Mali required immediate attention and participants voiced their concerns regarding the threat to democracy in a country that until recently had been an example of stability in the region. Strong international condemnation and sanctions to increase pressure on the military group which perpetrated the coup d’état should allow a swift return to a peaceful situation, the holding of free and fair presidential elections, and the reestablishment of democratic rule in that country.
Grave developments in Syria, an emergency item on the agenda of the IPU Assembly, were also examined and participants were unanimous in their condemnation of the ongoing violence and their support of the United Nations efforts and the Annan plan that had recently been introduced. Violence against civilians had to end and humanitarian aid be allowed into the country to help the innocent victims of the Assad regime’s violence.
The Secretary General of the SI gave a report on the recent meeting of the SI Special Committee on the Arab World in Istanbul, where these questions had been part of discussions and where political actors from the Arab world had shared their experiences in establishing democratic rule in their countries. Parliamentarians agreed that previous experiences of successful transitions within the social democratic movement could be used to provide support and knowledge for these new democracies and that closer cooperation with the new democratic actors in this field would provide concrete help in achieving their aims.
On the wider question of advancing democracy in the Arab world it was underlined that significant progress had been made in several countries, and that the democratic transitions needed the full support of the global social democratic family. The Arab spring was seen as an opportunity for the SI to support but also to question developments, especially when the original demands of the people for freedoms and rights were not matched by the new governments in place.
Participants stressed that increased cooperation between the IPU and the Socialist International had proved to be fruitful. In the case of the elections of the current IPU President Abdelwahad Radi, First Secretary of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces of Morocco, the SI member party in that country, he had presented his programme as candidate during the previous meeting of SI parliamentarians at the 125th IPU Assembly in Bern and had subsequently been elected. The fact that a social-democrat from the Arab World was leading the IPU was seen as a very positive signal not only for the Arab World. The need to use and link the different channels parliamentarians had at hand to advance common goals and to unite in the search for solutions to global problems was underlined especially as democracy was the same everywhere and today more than ever people all over the world were unwilling to accept anything less than the full respect of their democratic rights and freedoms.