At the opening session of the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly on 15 October, the Governing Council discussed the status of parliamentarians in several IPU member countries.
According to IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong, the organisation’s Executive Committee carries out ongoing monitoring of the political situation in the world, especially as it relates to the work of parliaments. The Executive Committee has drafted recommendations to resolve conflicts in several countries.
The most complicated situation today is the situation in Yemen: the country is in a state of war. “Parliament has become a victim of this war”, stressed Mr Chungong. “Today the country has two parliaments, in Sana’a and Aden, and nobody knows which of them is legitimate. The IPU leadership has met with representatives from both parliaments and with the authorities in the country, and we discussed the need to provide humanitarian assistance and resolve this parliamentary ambiguity.” Yemen is represented by two delegations at the current IPU Assembly.
Venezuela also has two delegations at the Assembly. “Within the framework of parliamentary solidarity, we support the country’s current parliament”, said the IPU Secretary General. “This spring the situation worsened, and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced that he was convening a new National Assembly, a Constituent Assembly. The Chair of the National Assembly was forbidden to leave the country. We believe that his rights have been violated. We must offer our support to the democratically elected parliament of Venezuela.”
IPU President Saber Chowdhury commented, “We stand in defence of the people of Venezuela and that country’s parliament. We regret that the government has not kept its promise and has not allowed the head of parliament to attend this Assembly.”
IPU members take a negative view of the situation in Cambodia, where several members of parliament have been unlawfully convicted of crimes; in the Maldives, where the parliament is currently occupied by the police and security forces; in Guinea-Bissau, where the parliament has not met regularly since 2014; in South Sudan, still in the grip of a civil war; and in Eritrea, where 11 members of parliament have been killed. In Gambia, thanks to the involvement of the IPU, the situation has changed for the better. A new president has been elected and parliamentary elections held with no legal violations. The country has now been removed from the list of countries of concern.
The parliamentarians devoted particular attention to the situation in Syria. Mr Chowdhury reported that a Syria working group was created in April, headed by Russian senator Konstantin Kosachev. Consultations with interested parties are under way, and solutions are being developed. “We must hold bilateral meetings with delegations from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Oman and several other countries”, Mr Kosachev commented. “We can make a positive contribution to resolving the situation and still remain neutral. Let us try to convince our counterparts that the only solution to the situation in Syria is a political one.” The speaker of the Syrian parliament promised to lend his support to the working group.