[Mar 4] Kazakh delegation pays working visit to UK, Estonian general elections, Myanmar Deputy Speaker discusses Constitutional amendments, 29th Conference of Arab IPU
A delegation from Kazakhstan's Parliament paid a working visit to the United Kingdom from 25 February to 1 March 2019. It was a reciprocal visit of the Kazakh parliamentarians after the British Parliament delegation's visit to Kazakhstan in May 2018.
The visit was organized by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), which is currently implementing a program on strengthening Kazakh-British inter-parliamentary relations and enhancing Kazakh parliamentarians’ knowledge and understanding of parliamentary practices and processes from the UK and elsewhere by increasing interaction between the two parliaments.
The Kazakh parliamentary delegation was led by the chair of the group for cooperation with the UK and member of the Mazhilis (lower chamber) of the Kazakh Parliament Beibit Mamrayev. The Kazakh delegation participated as observers in a parliamentary debate on the UK's exit from the EU. The delegation also met with members of the UK Parliament, including the Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords Lord Dennis Rogan, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Kazakhstan Bob Stewart, MP of Scottish Parliament Angela Constance, and WFD Chief Executive Anthony Smith. The two sides discussed prospects of strengthening inter-parliamentary relations, Brexit, cooperation in sustainable development, transition to renewable energy, and other international issues.
The members of the Senate (upper chamber) and the Mazhilis of the Kazakh Parliament also met with the members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons of the UK Parliament, including the Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords, Lord Dennis Rogan, Baroness Sharon Bowles, Chair of the APPG for Kazakhstan Bob Stewart, Vice Chair of the APPG for Kazakhstan Lord Mohamed Sheikh, John Grogan, Member of the Scottish Parliament Angela Constance, as well as the WFD Chief Executive Anthony Smith. The sides discussed the prospects of strengthening inter-parliamentary relations, the situation around the UK's exit from the EU, cooperation in sustainable development, transition to renewable energy, and other international issues.
Mr. Mamrayev briefed his UK colleagues on the forthcoming 4th Meeting of Speakers of Eurasian Parliaments (MSEAP), which is scheduled for 23-24 September 2019 in Astana. Speakers of both houses of UK Parliament were invited to the event, which is themed “Greater Eurasia: Dialogue, Trust, Partnership”. The Kazakh parliamentarian expressed hope that the participation of UK Parliament representatives would contribute to the further development of cooperation within greater Eurasia and strengthen mutual understanding in addressing the urgent issues through dialogue and partnership.
PHOTO: AFP/GETTY. Kaja Kallas (center) looks set to become Estonia’s first female prime minister.
The center-right Reform Party led by former Member of European Parliament Kaja Kallas has won Estonia’s general election with 29% of the votes, beating the ruling Center Party which received 23% of the votes in Sunday’s ballot.
Reform and Center Parties support continued austerity policies, which have left Estonia with the lowest debt level of any Eurozone country but have caused anger in rural communities who felt left behind. The two parties have alternated in power since Estonia's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, but the Eurosceptic Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE) saw its popularity surge and garnered about 18% of the vote in this round of elections, coming in as a close third.
Chairwoman of the Estonian Reform Party Kallas said that all coalition options were on the table but insisted that EKRE were “not a choice to us”. Centre and Reform have governed in coalition in the past. Ms Kallas did not rule this out but said her party has "strong differences" with Centre over tax, education and citizenship.
The conservative Isamaa party and the Social Democrats - currently in the governing coalition with the Centre party - won 11.4% and 9.8% respectively, and could partner with either of the main parties.
Nearly a quarter of Estonia’s 881,000 eligible voters cast their ballots by e-voting, and the members of parliament were chosen through proportional representation.
PHOTO: Radio Free Asia. Tun Tun Hein, deputy speaker of Myanmar's parliament and chairman of the constitutional reform committee, attends a meeting in Naypyidaw, Feb. 25, 2019.
On February 25, Deputy Speaker of Myanmar’s Parliament and chairman of the Constitutional Reform Committee Tun Tun Hein said that in the second meeting of the 45-person constitutional reform committee, lawmakers discussed amending the constitution chapter by chapter, which chapters they will change, and a timetable for changing them. The Deputy Speaker announced that the committee will review the 48 basic principles from Chapter 1, including the military’s role in politics, during its meeting on March 5.
Both the military and the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) both initially refused to submit nominees and did not participate in the first meeting. Military MPs hold a quarter of the seats in parliament by appointment, and USDP lawmakers control 5% of the seats. Earlier on Saturday, the military said that it would stymie attempts by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) to change the “essence” of the country’s constitution. After attending the second meeting, military MPs and USDP lawmakers refused to respond to questions by the press.
Lawmakers have to submit their opinions or reasons against amending chapter 1 of the constitution by March 4, 2019. The committee will continue to hold regular meetings every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday even when parliament is not in session, and must submit a draft constitutional amendment bill to the chamber by July 17.
PHOTO: Xinhua. Speaker of Syrian People’s Assembly Hammoudeh Sabbagh (center, front row).
Speaker of Syrian People's Assembly Hammoudeh Sabbagh attended the 29th conference of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU) in Amman, Jordan, on March 3, 2019. Syria attended the meeting for the first time since the country's conflict broke out in 2011.
The Syrian parliament said that the meeting was set to discuss the issue of the country’s readmission to the League of Arab States (LAS) among other things. Sabbagh expressed hope that the conference would be successful and its "resolutions and recommendations will serve the interests of the Arabs". He also noted that it was "natural" for Syria to get the invitation to the conference.
Atef Tarawneh, the Speaker of Jordanian Parliament’s lower house, welcomed the Syrian delegation upon its arrival and voiced hope for positive results of the conference, which “will return Syria to the bosom of the Arab world”.
The two-day conference from March 3 was attended by parliament speakers and representatives from 16 Arab countries, and was held under the slogan “Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Palestinian state”.
BY MSEAP Cyber Secretariat (email@example.com)