Implications of the suspension of the PAP Bureau election - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Implications of the suspension of the PAP Bureau election

By Olu Ibekwe

The Fourth Ordinary Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) which commenced on Monday May 24 was on Tuesday June 1, 2021 abruptly suspended by the Clerk of the Parliament, Mr. Vipya Harawa.

A press statement by Mr. Harawa explained that suspension followed the “disagreements and disruptions that transpired during the procession of the Plenary on 31 May and 01 June as the PAP was looking to elect the President and Vice Presidents of its Bureau”.

Consequently, the session adjourned sine die without putting in place, a bureau to run the affairs of the parliament as well as leadership of the regional caucuses and permanent committees of the parliament.

Some countries including Ethiopia, Zambia and Algeria are expected to conclude parliamentary elections and designate new members to the PAP soon. Under the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament, the Permanent Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline is supposed to review the credentials of the newly elected parliamentarians. There is at present, no such committee to perform this very important function.

It also means that the new members cannot be sworn in without a presiding officer since the oath taking under Rule 37 is part of the Order Paper which takes place in a properly constituted session.

And if the members of such new delegations cannot be vetted and sworn in, they may also not participate in the election of the new Bureau which may affect the credibility and fairness of such an election where otherwise eligible country delegations are excluded.

Article 12(5) of the Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union relating to the Pan African Parliament (PAP Protocol) stipulates that the President and the Vice-Presidents shall be responsible for the management and administration of the affairs and facilities of the Pan-African Parliament and its organs. In the discharge of their duties, the Officers shall be assisted by the Clerk and the two Deputy Clerks. So who now takes charge of the administration of the affairs of PAP pending when elections are conducted?

Fortunately, Article 13 of the PAP Protocol provides a solution to the current leadership vacuum. Under Article 13, the Assembly of Heads of States and Government of the AU or the Executive Council, through the Chairperson of the AU, may request an Extraordinary session of the Parliament for the specific purpose of conducting election to fill the vacant positions in the Bureau of the Parliament as well as the leadership of the regional caucuses and permanent committees.

It is expected that a decision to convene such an extraordinary PAP session will be taken at the forthcoming AU Summit which is also expected to resolve the contentious issue of rotation of the presidency of the Parliament that led to the chaotic session and the consequent suspension of plenary. The AU Office of Legal Counsel which conducts elections for the Assembly and Executive Council, should also be designated to conduct or supervise the PAP Bureau election.



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