Sudan meets Wales: What can the Parliament of Sudan learn from the National Assembly for Wales?

Over the last year or so, staff from the National Assembly for Wales have been working in partnership with a social purpose enterprise, Global Partners Governance (GPG), to share best practice with the Parliament of Sudan. As part of this relationship, it was decided that a visit to the National Assembly for Wales would be beneficial for a small delegation of Sudanese MPs and staff.

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A 1.5 day programme was prepared for the delegates. The programme included sessions on the following subject areas:

Development of the Assembly’s Research Service

To date, the Parliament of Sudan has not established a Research Service. This session reinforced the worth of having an impartial Research Service to support Assembly Members’ in their role. Delegates were very interested in the templates and ‘golden rules’ that the Research Service use here at the National Assembly for Wales.

Examples were used in this session to demonstrate how the Research Service works in partnership with Assembly Committees to support their work. Delegates were eager to learn more about this and expressed great interest in each aspect of the session.

How the Assembly engages with Welsh citizens and linking public engagement to Assembly Business

This session demonstrated how important public engagement and public perception of the National Assembly for Wales is, and what tools are used to reach out to target audiences.

Youth Engagement and Education

This was an opportunity to observe an educational visit, and to meet participating school children. The delegation were also given an overview of the Assembly’s Youth Engagement Service. A particular interest was shown in getting young people and children involved from an early age.

Meeting with Assembly Committee Chair and Clerk

Further to watching a Committee take place in the Senedd, delegates met with David Rees AM, Chair of the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee.

“The discussion with the Sudanese delegates focussed upon the role of the committees in scrutinising government action and policies together with the importance of a strong relationship between committee members and the committee staff which allows the committee to be effective. They were very interested in knowing how we worked as a team to hold the government to account.”

The delegates were surprised to see that Committee meetings at the National Assembly for Wales are open for public viewing, as all Committee business takes place in private at the Parliament of Sudan.

Openness and transparency in the National Assembly for Wales

Finally, the Deputy Presiding Officer, Ann Jones AM led a session that re-emphasised the importance of transparency here in Wales. Delegates were shown how easily the public can access information such as the Record of Proceedings, further highlighting openness at the National Assembly for Wales.

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A tour of the Senedd was also enjoyed. After explaining the sustainable nature of the building, it was clear to see that sustainability was of keen interest to the delegation. A group of young musicians called ‘Speelschare’ were playing in the Senedd during the tour. The delegates thoroughly enjoyed the performance and coincidentally bumped into the Llywydd Elin Jones AM, who was also watching the performance. This was a photo opportunity that couldn’t be missed!

Following the visit, our GPG contact stated that

‘…The delegation were inspired by the creative ways in which the NAW was seen to be transparent and open to the public, and the delegation have discussed implementing similar concepts in the Sudanese National Assembly. The delegation were considering ways to promote a better understanding of the Sudanese National Assembly’s role among the public there. ‘

Adrian Crompton, Director of Assembly Business was pleased to see the delegation, having already met many of them whilst visiting Sudan in line with his role with GPG.

‘It was fantastic to see my friends from Sudan and for them to benefit from such a great programme. Democracy in Sudan faces unique challenges but also some that are common to parliaments internationally, such as how to engage the public and how to improve the scrutiny of government. I have worked with many parliaments all around the world and all see the Assembly as a model from which to learn. So I’m really looking forward to seeing how the visit has influenced the development of the parliament when I return to Sudan in October.’

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