By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
December 13, 2010 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al- Bashir arrived in the Ethiopian capital here on Monday to attend the 5th International Conference on Federalism, first ever to be hosted by an African country.
Upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport around 2:30pm (local time), president Omer al-Bashir was welcomed by state Federal Affairs Minister, Dr. Shiferaw Teklemariam.
The three-day conference, is being held under the theme: ‘Equality and Unity in Diversity for Development’ and is expected to provide a forum for academicians and practitioners to discuss issues of federalism and decentralization also for sharing experience related to challenges associated with the governance and operation of federal and federal-type systems.
Bashir lauded such an important conference on Federalism is first ever held in an African soil. He said the conference will help to share experiences among African federal states and reflect the unity of Africans.
"We are all here gathered here to consolidate the concepts of freedom and democracy’’ President Bashir said adding “we are here to learn from each other a peaceful and political transformation of power” Sudan Tribune learnt from Bashir’s Arabic translation as saying.
"Establishment of a federal government system in Sudan has brought a change to solve country’s problems and political situation in Sudan has become better since then” he said.
At the opening ceremony later today, cultural troupes representing country’s over 80 different ethnic groups performed before an estimated 600 delegates worldwide, singing and dancing on a colorful cultural traditional elegant dresses aided with traditional musical instruments at Addis Ababa’s millennium hall.
Ethiopia was elected to host the conference based on the invitation made by Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, during the 4th International Conference on Federalism, hosted by the Government of India.
The Tanzanian and Rwandan Presidents as well as the Somalian prime minister arrived here on Monday among other African political figures, heads of state and government of African countries arrived to take part in the 5th International Conference on Federalism.
Sudan adopted a new federal structure of government in 1991. The country is divided into 26 states, each with its own governor, legislature, and executive administration.
After the 2005 peace agreement, ten of these states in the south became under the authority of Southern Sudan government. The semi-autonomous region is expected to secede from the North in a referendum to take place in January 2011.