Lord Fakafanua, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, recently participated in the 27th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth (CSPOC), hosted by the Parliament of Uganda and chaired by Rt Hon Anita Among, the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, in Kampala, Uganda, from 3-7 January 2024.
CSPOC brings together Speakers from national Parliaments of Commonwealth countries, creating a platform for collaboration and understanding among nations with a shared heritage of parliamentary democracy and the Westminster system of government.
Lord Fakafanua's active participation reflects the strong commitment of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga to the CSPOC, which aims to enhance the understanding of the constitutional roles of the Speaker, strengthen parliamentary institutions, and promote the exchange of ideas on rules and procedures. The event fosters connections between Speakers from across the Commonwealth, providing a space to discuss common challenges and successes.
In a notable achievement, Lord Fakafanua has been re-elected as a Pacific bloc representative in the CSPOC’s Standing Committee. This reappointment underscores his exceptional leadership and dedication to reinforcing parliamentary democracy. In this role, Lord Fakafanua will advocate for Pacific interests on the international parliamentary stage together with the Speaker of the Parliament of Samoa who was also appointed.
The CSPOC Standing Committee, responsible for shaping the future of CSPOC discourse, plays a pivotal role in proposing Draft Agendas, reviewing rules, managing financial matters, and deciding conference logistics. Lord Fakafanua's ongoing involvement ensures the voices of Tonga and the Pacific region are heard in crucial discussions on global legislative frameworks.
During the conference, Lord Fakafanua actively contributed to discussions on pressing global issues, focusing on climate change, security of Parliament, health and wellbeing of MPs, and building consensus in Parliament.
This platform allowed for comprehensive dialogue on strategies to address these challenges. Participants also engaged in conversations about fostering diversity and inclusivity within Parliaments.
The conference not only facilitated knowledge exchange but also strengthened ties between Tonga and other Commonwealth nations. Lord Fakafanua also had the opportunity to meet and congratulate the newly elected IPU President, Hon Dr. Tulia Ackson.
The 27th CSPOC convention, attended by thirty-three Speakers and Presiding Officers from over 25 Commonwealth Parliaments, emphasized the Pacific's commitment to addressing diverse issues, including inclusive Parliaments, security for Members of Parliaments, health and well-being of legislators, gender, and youth governance, among other priority topics.
Speakers and Presiding Officers were graciously hosted by the Parliament of Uganda who also planned a number of cultural and wildlife excursions to showcase the rich heritage and natural beauty of Uganda.
The next CSPOC is tentatively scheduled to be hosted by the UK Parliament in London, United Kingdom in 2026. The Speaker was accompanied by the Legislative Assembly’s Parliamentary Counsel.