YEAR ENDER 2023: Dr Tulia puts Africa on the map in IPU

AS the year comes to an end, Tanzania has made history in the world after the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Tulia Ackson, was elected as the 31st President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in October this year.

Dr Tulia not only raised Tanzania’s name but also the African continent for being the first African woman to hold the position in the IPU.

Following her election, Dr Tulia thanked the members for choosing her as the new IPU President.

“I am overwhelmed with gratitude and thank you for the confidence you have bestowed on me by electing me… I accept this position with all humility while recognising all the responsibilities that come with it,” said the new IPU President.

Dr Tulia added, “I reaffirm my commitment to working hand in hand with all of you to make the IPU the most effective, accountable and transparent organisation.”

She also pledged to cooperate with all candidates by working on their ideas on how the IPU should move forward.

“Thank you for the good fight that you have fought. We will work together… I am sure you had good ideas on how the IPU should move forward… I will need those ideas so that we propel the IPU to greater heights,” Dr Tulia said.

She said that she will work together with all members to ensure that the IPU is not only a better place but also a voice for everyone in the world.

She takes over from Mr Duarte Pacheco, a parliamentarian from Portugal, who concluded his three-year mandate at the end of the 147th IPU Assembly in Luanda, Angola.

The Speaker of the National Assembly has also become the third woman to assume the IPU Presidency after Najma Heptulla from India (1999–2002) and Gabriela Cuevas from Mexico (2017–2020).

Following news of the win, President Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan joined the world in applauding Speaker Dr Tulia Ackson for becoming the first African woman to assume the role of President of the IPU.

“Your election is a manifestation of the remarkable job you are doing and the trust delegates across the world have in you and our country. It is a testament to your many years of hard work and dedication to public service and an inspiration to young girls in Tanzania, the African continent and beyond.”

Aside from President Samia, the IPU Parliament, through their X handle, also sent applause to the Speaker by writing, “Congratulations to @TuliaAckson from #Tanzania’s @bunge_tz on her election to the #IPU presidency at #IPU147 in #Angola.

“Dr Tulia Ackson is the 31st president of the IPU and the first woman from #Africa to hold the position of @IPUPresident.”

Former President Jakaya Kikwete also joined other famous figures across the world in congratulating Speaker Dr Tulia Ackson for being elected as the President of the global Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) via his verified @jmkikwete handle, saying:

“Congratulations @TuliaAckson on your well-deserved election as President of the global Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). You have made us all proud! Good luck in your new role as the top political leader of the IPU.”

Addressing residents at the Dodoma Airport after witnessing the crowd, Dr Tulia said, “I am overwhelmed.” The National Assembly Speaker and IPU president asked all Tanzanians to pay tribute to President Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan for blessing her candidacy in the race.

“For one to vie for that position, you need to receive a green light from the Head of State, and President Samia did that for me,” she added, stressing that winning the IPU presidency was not easy but was supported by the strong energy and political support from the Tanzanian government.

She hailed President Samia’s leadership for laying strong foundations of democracy, which she said greatly expedited her victory in Luanda.

Dr Tulia said her victory was a triumph for the country, further stating that Tanzania has set a record of winning straight away without going into the second round of voting, despite facing strong competition from other challengers.

However, Dr Tulia could not hold her reservations for some Tanzanians who took to social media to defame her and the country during the campaign.

She said it was unfortunate that there are Tanzanians, knowingly or unknowingly, being used to tarnish the name of their own country, something which she said must stop.

She also called on Tanzanians to refrain from hatred and learn to support each other when it comes to matters of national interest.

Dr Ackson beat three other candidates on the ballot – Adji Diarra Mergane Kanouté of Senegal, Catherine Gotani Hara of Malawi, and Marwa Abdibashir Hagi of Somalia, all women MPs from Africa.

Dr Ackson became a parliamentarian in 2015.

She is currently the Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania, a position she acquired in 2022 after a stint as Deputy Speaker.

She also once served as the Deputy Attorney General in 2015.

The Mbeya urban lawmaker has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Law from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and a Doctorate from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

She is an advocate of the High Court of Tanzania and a member of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS).

She also taught at the Faculty of Law at the University of Dar es Salaam.

The President is the political head of the IPU, who chairs its statutory meetings and represents the organisation at global events.

The principle of regional rotation is generally observed. Over the past 25 years, the IPU presidency has been held by prominent parliamentarians from Spain, India, Chile, Italy, Namibia, Morocco, Bangladesh, Mexico, Portugal and now the United Republic of Tanzania.

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