H.E. Alssane SAKANDE, President of the 15th PUIC Conference: Our Organization Must Enhance Gains and Strengthen Unity of the Nation

H.E. Alssane SAKANDE, President of the 15th PUIC Conference: Our Organization Must Enhance Gains and Strengthen Unity of the Nation

Hajj Alassane Bala SAKANDE, Speaker of the National Assembly of Burkina Faso is known for his stances and actions in favor of the fragile sectors in his country.

However, this statement must not be misunderstood. Because behind this affection towards the weak elements in the society, which made him relinquish 50% of his basic salary as a parliamentary Deputy in favor of orphans, there is a solid and powerful political character.

With his frankness, trustfulness and benevolent discourse, he reminds people of Thomas Sankara, whom he is one of the latter’s senior admirers.

In January 2020, his country hosts, in Ouagadougou, the 15th Session of the PUIC Conference when he will assume presidency of the Union.

In his capacity as the forthcoming PUIC President, Speaker Alassane Bala SAKANDE, is responding to the questions of the “PUIC”.

“PUIC”: The year (2019) marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the PUIC. How do you evaluate the progress of the Union?

Alassane Bala SAKANDE: Before I answer your questions, allow me to hail the sagacity and enlightenment of our Founding Fathers, and the effort they deployed for establishing the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States (PUIC) in 1999 in Tehran. I am not going to recall names for fear of forgetting one of them. However, I express my appreciation of this initiative which brings together now more than fifty parliaments around common values.

Going back to your question about establishing the PUIC 20 years ago, this may not constitute something compared to other much older organizations. However, the advancement of organizations is not measured only by their age.

Considering PUIC membership, achievements and the status acquired at the international level, we recognize the importance of the march covered by the PUIC in two decades only.

Casting a glance on what has been achieved compared with the principles and objectives which has led to the establishment of the PUIC, we must express our legitimate satisfaction despite the huge challenges which we ought to address.

Allow me to give three examples, although there are more than this.

The first justification for satisfaction relates to the regularity of convening PUIC meetings. These meetings, considered a framework for discussion and exchange of views, constitute factors of rapprochement of Member Parliaments prompting enhancement of harmony and unison for the sake of the unity of the Ummah.

To ensure further opportunities of meeting between us, means more hope of agreement on the big issues set before the group of believers in Islam.

The Second justification for satisfaction, which relates to the first one, is concerned with contacts which furnish opportunities for parliamentarians to convene and document such meetings. This relates to one of the objectives behind the establishment of the PUIC.

These contacts have become a reality today. They made it possible, in many cases, to build relations among parliamentarians, on the one hand, and to document and enhance cooperation among parliaments, on the other.

The third example has to do with the resolutions and recommendations which we prepare. These have definite impact on the general policies of our states. I must explain that when the PUIC approves a resolution, commitment to it resides with our states, which bear responsibility for comprehending the directives adopted collectively.

However, as they say, the tree does not hide the forest. Beside these positive results, many challenges remain, in terms of procedures, steering the organs or relations among members. Regarding procedures and steering it is important that the Standing Specialized Committees be able to function outside the times of conferences in such a way as to ensure meeting of these committees between the convening of two Conferences.

It is also important for the PUIC to work towards establishing an effective mechanism for follow up and evaluation of the implementation of resolutions and recommendations.

Finally, it is a priority to enhance the PUIC and its partnership with the UN and to have a permanent mission with the latter.

“PUIC”: Your country is hosting, for the first time, a PUIC Conference despite the challenges facing Burkina Faso. What is your view of hosting such Conferences in states similar to your country?

Alassane Bala SAKANDE: At the outset, it is an honor to have chosen Burkina Faso to host this organ which is considered the highest body for decision – taking in our Union. This Conference, wherever it has been convened, constitutes a challenge for the state organizing it. Fully aware of the issues involved, Burkina Faso has accepted to host the 15th PUIC Conference. Our Country is ready to lift the challenge of organizing this event; moreover it constitutes a golden opportunity to further open to other sisterly nations with which we share the common values of brotherhood, solidarity and humanity.

Beside its geographical location and reputation as the land of hospitality the “Land of Good Men” has a measure of experiences in the field of organizing events of an international nature.

For recollection, our country previously hosted successfully substantial parliamentary gatherings, such as 71st Session of the Executive Committee of the African Parliamentary Union; the 40th Conference of the Speakers of the Union ( November 2017); 106th IPU Assembly (September 2001) ..ect. I say, therefore, that Burkina Faso, has experience in organizing big parliamentary events.

Every meeting has its special objectives and special context. Therefore, the National Organizing Committee of the 15th PUIC Conference, has taken into consideration all dimensions of the event.

“PUIC”: The world is suffering from the danger of terrorism, meanwhile the African Sahel States suffer more. How do you envisage the optimum strategy to remove this danger?

Alassane Bala SAKANDE: there is no panacea in the field of combating terrorism. We must be aware, first of all, that terrorism is a cross – border phenomenon, which impact states of the South and States of the North; advanced nations like states moving along the path of development; democratic states like those living under other types of political system. I will use the metaphor of cancer to express my view of this phenomenon as it appears now. Cancer cells of terrorism concentrate at present on the Sahel. But the malignant tumors threaten all regions of the world. We need, therefore, a common and strong response.

The establishment of the group of the five Sahel States (G5), as well as the formation of a common parliamentary Committee of the Sahel States prove the will of the Member States to double their efforts in struggling against the danger of terrorism. However, the matter necessitates more than this in order to stop the exportable terrorism. The Sahel – Sahara line constitutes for terrorism the victimized region now. However, we must fear the aggravation of violence if other states do not commit themselves to their military and political pledges.

The support and keeping abreast of partners in bilateral manner; regional and international organizations such as the United Nations, and all the international community… are necessary to stop the proliferation of armed groups.

To confront the security challenges, the PUIC has to enhance its gains at the time it is carrying out reforms aimed at strengthening unity of the Ummah.

The military option is not the only sustainable response in fighting terrorism and getting protection from it. Regions where the state is absent must have more socio- economic investments, because we must not forget that poverty and ignorance are the essential nourishment of all types of violent extremism. In this point, in particular, keeping abreast by partners in development is also necessary.

“PUIC”: The Palestinian cause and the status of Al- Quds remain the central issue for the Islamic Ummah, as it is the cause of a people who were driven out of their land more than seventy years ago. In your view what could the PUIC do more in this regard?

Alassane Bala SAKANDE: It is obvious for everyone that the cause of Palestine is the primarily cause for the Islamic World and that the duty of the PUIC is to approach a more just and equitable world. This is the principle from which the PUIC proceeds in its struggle in order to defend the rights of our brothers in Palestine. It is also the responsibility of the various operators to seek saving the world from injustice and violence.

“PUIC”: The Parliament of Burkina Faso has an appreciable experience in the field of parliamentary diplomacy. Can you inform us about your experience so that others may benefit from it?

Alassane Bala SAKANDE: The National Assembly of Burkina Faso is proud that its parliamentary diplomacy has been a model today, and not, without doubt, a world model. However, we proceed from the principle that the Deputy carries with him, wherever he goes, the aspirations of his parliamentary responsibility in the context of the common parliamentary organizations, and at friendly parliaments.

In the field of international cooperation, the activity of the 7th Legislature comes in the framework of an old parliamentary tradition in Burkina Faso which focuses always on opening to organizations, whether in the bilateral or multilateral domains. We are always ready to share our experience, and we are also ready to receive the experiences of others.

“PUIC”: In our contemporary age, Muslims, especially in the Western World, suffer from the phenomenon of “Islamophobia”. How do we combat this phenomenon? Is it through dialogue of civilizations, or by informing about our tolerant Islamic religion, or by what other means?

Alassane Bala SAKANDE: It is regrettable that, in this day and age, persons are harassed because of their religious affiliation. Religious intolerance, the victims of which are Muslims and other monotheists, is derived from stereotyping and erroneous ideas which are promoted by malicious persons that harbor animosity for others.

Concerning Islamophobia, in particular, we will be able, through the daily practicing of our creed and keeping to our Islamic principles, to dismantle the anti- Muslim discourse. Also Islamic organizations must double their efforts in propagating awareness and information about the genuine values of Islam. Such a campaign must target all age sectors, however there must be more focus on youth baecause they are the builders of a tolerant future. On the national level, the public authorities and the civil society organizations must seek to enhance the frameworks of dialogue of religions, cultures and civilizations. Groups must open up to each other and exchange visions and ideas.

“PUIC”: Our Islamic religion urges Muslims to maintain solidarity among themselves. How can we materialize this through PUIC Parliaments?

Alassane Bala SAKANDE: Solidarity is one an essence of human values. Pursuant to this concept, consolidating solidarity through PUIC parliaments comes by way of strengthening the principle of continuous consultation among parliamentary organizations. This consultation leads to the sharing of useful experiences among parliaments. However, this solidarity among Muslims must not be directed against another religious group. But the opposite is true…

Allah Almighty says: “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out” – Al Bagarah- 256