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Kenya Prepares for Worldwide Parliamentary Assembly

Final preparations are being put in place for the Inter-Parliamentary Union's worldwide assembly, set to open in the Kenyan capital Sunday. This is the first time the assembly will be held in East Africa.

Kenya's speaker of the national assembly, Francis ole Kaparo, told reporters in Nairobi Friday that 117 parliaments from around the world will participate in the week-long assembly, set to open in Nairobi Sunday.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly is expected to focus on the role of parliament in three areas: controlling the flow of small arms, light weapons and ammunition; managing the environment; and combating violence and discrimination against women.

Kaparo told reporters the topics are relevant for Kenya and the surrounding region.

"Right now, there is an operation to collect illegal small arms within the country, yet we all know we also have porous borders where from these small arms came through in the first place," he said. "We are also going to discuss in this conference violence against women. For our parliament, we have been discussing the Sexual Offenses Bill, which also encompasses violence against women."

Kaparo said getting an international perspective on issues such as female genital mutilation that are being heavily debated in Africa will be helpful for the continent.

More than 1,500 members and other officials from parliaments from around the world are expected to converge in Nairobi from May 7 to 12.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union, established in 1889, brings together 140 national parliaments worldwide to discuss world peace and the establishment of transparent, representative government.

The organization normally has two assemblies a year, one in Geneva and one in a host country. Six assemblies have been held in Africa, but this is the first time that East Africa will host an assembly.