Conakry, Guinea - With the hope of forming a close tie between parliamentarians from the four Mano River Union Countries-Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast, Representative Mulbah (District#3, Bong County, NPP) has held discussions with a high power Guinean Parliamentarians delegation including six lawmakers led by the 1st Vice President of the Guinean parliament.
At the meeting held at the Guinean Parliament Tuesday in the office of Speaker Claude Kory Kondiano , Hon. Saloum Cisse, 1st Vice President who proxy for the speaker who was at the same time presiding over a crucial live broadcast budget hearing led a team of five other high ranking members of the Guinean parliament to the meeting.
Other members of the Guinean delegation included Honorable Diao Kante’ President de la Commission Affaires Etrangeis, Honorable Fode Oussou Fofana, President de Groupe Parlimentaire Liberal Democratic (UFDG), Jean Edouard Sagno, Directarde Cabinet, Adoubacar Sidiki Keita, Directeur des Relations Internationales at du Protocole and Lausana Bissiry Sylla, Chef du Protocole.
At the meeting Representative Mulbah said the 53rd National Legislature of Liberia has started the process of spearheading the establishment of a Mano Union Parliament, a parliamentarian association that will bring together lawmakers from the four countries to discuss common issues- trade, development, transportation, health and other issues affecting the region that require legislation.
“Some of the developments we need in the region require legislation, so it will be difficult for all four countries to pass on a common legislation when we do not have a network of lawmakers that will push that quickly in each of the four countries, so we really need his MRU parliament”, Rep. Mulbah said.
He said all four MRU countries share a lot in common and anything that affects one also affects the others, therefore if the lawmakers from these countries do not work together they will always have problems before looking for solution.
Citing example of the deadly Ebola virus, he noted that the outbreak has underscore the need for proper coordination amongst the lawmakers to have legislation that will be find solution to problems before they arise.
“Passing legislation is one of the easier ways of solving problems because when the laws are there, people will not be looking for solutions their own way, so we need to work together as parliamentarians to make common laws for the benefit of our people”, he added.
Amongst some major areas of collaboration as parliamentarians, the Liberian lawmaker said legislation on transport system between the four countries, integrated health system and others require a common legislation by all MRU members’ countries.
“Our Speaker, Honorable J. Emmanuel Nuquay wants me to extend an official invitation to your Speaker and key members of the parliament to Liberia in January for us to start the face to face discussion on the formation of this important regional legislative grouping”, Rep. Mulbah disclosed.
“You will also have a golden opportunity to listen to the last speech of our President, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who is also head of ECOWAS before she leaves office."
"It will be a historic moment”, Rep. Mulbah intimated.
Honorable Cisse’, 1st Vice President of the Guinean Parliament described the initiative as brilliant and pledged the Guinean parliament fullest support.
“This idea is very good because we have a lot in common, we need to work together to make laws that will improve the region”, 1st Vice President Cisse’ said.
He assured that the Guinean parliament will attach serious importance to the formation of the MRU parliament and will give the fullest support for the success of the process.
“From our side, consider this process already done because we will be at the forefront."
"As you can see, even though we are having live budget debate, but I have to come with six members including the head of the opposition bloc at our parliament to meet you, it shows that we are in full support”, Honorable Cisse’ said.
Need one voice
Honorable Kante’ who is a member of the Pan African Parliament said forming such bloc is long overdue because according him when lawmakers from the MRU countries go to the Pan African parliament they can be divided on issues at many instances.
“This group will be very important to us because it will help us from the MRU countries discuss and agree on many issues before going to the Pan African Parliament or even those at ECOWAS parliament with one voice”, he said.
He continued “many times we go to the Pan African parliament from this region with divided voice and lawmakers from other countries think we are not together, that is because we do not have the opportunity to meet and decide how to approach discussion there before going”.
“we go there with different views on issues, which is many times very bad and looks like we do not have things in common”, the member of the Pan African parliament observed.
He indicated that other parliamentary groupings such as Pan African and ECOWAS are bigger and lawmakers from MRU countries who are member are not able to go there with a common saying, therefore a smaller MRU parliament to enable lawmakers from these four countries meet in-house before going to these bigger gathering is very essential.
“I am the number one man in support of this because, I have observed many times that lawmakers from MRU countries do not go to bigger parliamentary meetings with one voice”, he expressed.
Advisory body to presidents
Honorable Fofana, head of the opposition party UFDG at the Guinean Parliament said such MRU parliament organization will play a key role in advising the presidents of the four countries.
“This is good idea, we can meet as lawmakers and even advise the presidents what to do for the region”, Honorable Fofana said.
He said lawmakers should take the lead in directing the path of the region and not leave all the various heads of states because they already have a lot of work to do.
Honorable Keita, head of the Guinean Parliament on Foreign Relations said in his capacity, he will work to make the dream of having a MRU parliament a success.
Representative Mulbah is also expected to meet with the Speaker of the Ivorian Parliament, Guillaume Kigbafori Soro before returning to Liberia where he is also expected to travel to Sierra Leone to meet the Speaker of that country discussing the establishment of the MRU parliament.
He presented a letter from Speaker Nuquay inviting the Speaker of Guinean parliament to witness President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf deliver her last State of the National Address in January 2017.
The MRU is an international association established in 1973 between Liberia and Sierra Leone. In 1980, Guinea joined the union.
The goal of the Union was to foster economic cooperation among the countries. It is named for the Mano River which begins in the Guinea highlands and forms a border between Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Due to internal conflicts in Sierra Leone and Guinea involving the countries the objectives of the Union could not be achieved.
The Union was reactivated at a summit of the three leaders of the Mano River Union states, Presidents Lansana Conté of Guinea, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone and Chairman Gyude Bryant of Liberia.
On April 1, 2008, Cote d'Ivoire agreed to join the union during a state visit by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. President Johnson-Sirleaf is currently the chair of the MRU.