[QODLink]
Archive
Arab parliament meets in Cairo
The Arab world's first regional parliament has held its inaugural meeting in Cairo but officials say it could be many years before the new institution gains enough power to influence events in the region.
Last Modified: 27 Dec 2005 12:37 GMT
The Arab Leaque's Amr Moussa opened the session
The Arab world's first regional parliament has held its inaugural meeting in Cairo but officials say it could be many years before the new institution gains enough power to influence events in the region.

The 88 members, four from the parliaments or advisory councils of each Arab League member, met at the league's Cairo headquarters for a session on Tuesday addressed by Amr Moussa, the league's secretary-general and Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president.
 
The interim parliament has no binding legislative authority and can give its opinion only on matters referred to it by the Arab League council, which represents Arab governments.

Based in Syria, it will meet twice a year.
  
Mubarak called the inaugural session "a historical occasion which opens new horizons for joint Arab action".

Monitoring necessary 

Rawhi Fattuh, speaker of the Palestinian legislature, said the parliament would be valuable only if it kept an eye on the actions of Arab governments.

"It must be a monitor of Arab executive institutions, but if it is just a union of parliaments then it's not going to be important," he said at the meeting.

The interim parliament has no
binding legislative authority 

Some Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, do not have elected parliaments, so their representatives in the Arab parliament are drawn from appointed advisory councils which have little power.

Some of the elected Arab parliaments are dominated by the executive or ruling party and rarely challenge the government.

The concept of the Arab parliament was part of a package of institutional changes promoted by Moussa as a way to make the Arab League strong and more effective.

But Arab heads of state have not approved other aspects of the package, including an Arab court of justice and an Arab security council to handle regional disputes.
 
The new interim parliament has five years to draft the arrangements for a permanent Arab parliament.

Post for liberal

In one of its first decisions on Tuesday, it chose liberal Kuwaiti Muhammad Jassim al-Saqr as its speaker, said Alaa Rushdi, an Arab League spokesman.

Al-Saqr, who has been head of the Kuwaiti parliament's foreign relations committee, has an initial term of one year, the Egyptian state news agency Mena said.

The forum has five years to draft
 a permanent parliament plan

Arab League officials say they hope the permanent parliament will eventually have power, possibly through direct elections similar to those held for the European parliament.

Said one official: "It's only a start, but the European parliament started small too. It's part of a trend away from an Arab League which exclusively represents governments."

Under Moussa in recent years, the Arab League has increasingly brought civil society groups into discussions.

"We have several regional parliaments - the European Parliament and the African Parliament. The Arab Parliament will be looking at them and their experiences and what they can learn from them," said spokesman Rushdi. 

Source:
Reuters
Topics in this article
People
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.