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Let’s negotiate as a block, ACP MPs tell African Union

The African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) members of parliament have urged the African Union Heads of State to push for unity in the post-Cotonou negotiations, which are aimed at strengthening the relations with the European Union.

In a declaration drafted by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, the ACP Parliamentary Assembly sitting in Brussels, Belgium, Wednesday 22 March 2018 noted that there is need to take into consideration the Georgetown Agreement that desires that the group enhances their political identity of acting and speaking with a single voice in all international fora and organisations.

The heads of states and government should uphold the unity of the ACP group as indivisible entity of nations, leveraging its combined numerical strength to become a prominent player in matters of international development, read the declaration in part.

Oulanyah, who is a co-rapporteur on the ACP working group to the negotiations, says that the two meetings of the ACP and the AU taking place concurrently in Brussels and Kigali need to have a common position on the negotiations.

Can we communicate to them? The purpose of this declaration is to express our solidarity with whatever they are doing in Kigali. It is important that we generate common ground on how we are going to proceed - the Assembly, the AU, the Pacific forum and all these institutions. Are we united in our positions in advancing the post- Cotonou agenda which deals with our unity of purpose, Oulanyah asked.

The Deputy Speaker noted that the negotiating framework proposed by the European Union is pushing for regionalization of the ACP Assembly, which is not beneficial for the group and hence the need for unity and moving as a block.

As Africa, the big brothers of the ACP, if you express a position on this matter, it will send a stronger signal to the rest of the cooperating parties that we need unity and do not want to be divided in which case we become weaker, Oulanyah said.

The Assembly chaired by Hon. Joseph Owona Kono from Cameroon adopted the declaration with reservations from the representatives from Rwanda and Gambia and added that, the group is pushing for common ideals of poverty eradication and the attainment of sustainable development goals and that all member states remain committed to these.

The ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000, was concluded for a 20-year period from 2000 to 2020.

The fundamental principles of the Cotonou Agreement include equality of partners, global participation, dialogue and regionalisation.

The ongoing meetings are in preparation for the negotiations that will see the amendment of the agreement post 2020.

The Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA) between the EU and 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) will expire on 29 February 2020. Negotiations on the 'post-Cotonou' partnership shall officially begin before 1 September 2018.

Source: Parliament of Uganda

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