PAP Bureau Election: AU Decision on rotation and matters arising (Part 2) - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Monday, October 25, 2021

PAP Bureau Election: AU Decision on rotation and matters arising (Part 2)

By Olu. Ibekwe (

In the first part of this article, I examined the decision of the last session of the Executive Council of the African Union (AU), that only the Northern and Southern Regional Caucuses of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) shall be eligible to present candidates for the presidency of the continental parliament in the upcoming bureau election

I argued that the decision was merely a reaffirmation of existing practice within the AU as it recalled and reaffirmed its previous decisions in 2017 and 2018 which were based on an earlier 2016 decision as well as the May 11, 2007 PAP resolution on rotation on the basis of which it instructed that the upcoming elections should be in line with the principle of rotation.

In this second part, I will look at the propriety and implications of the nomination of sole candidates for elections as president and vice presidents, going down memory lane

It is on record that the Northern Regional Caucus during the nomination process at the suspended election session opted not to present candidate for president for some obvious reasons. Since the upcoming session is a continuation of the last session, will the Northern Caucus maintain the same position and wait for its turn, without contestation in 2024?

As we all know, PAP was inaugurated in March 2004 when it had its first session at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Fortunately, it has over the years, left a trail of documentsl from which we can obtain answers to the propriety of a sole presidential candidate vis-à-vis how it was handled or resolved.

I will straight go to the record of proceedings of the PAP for the Monday May 28th 2012 plenary  of the Seventh Session when the late former President of the Pan African Parliament, Rt. Hon. Bethel Nnaemeka Amadi, OFR was elected as PAP President. (Adv. Zwelethu Madasa from South Africa was the Clerk of the Parliament).  


CLERK: Thank you Honourable Chair of the Ad hoc Committee. So, now we are going to deal with the election of the President only, because the ad hoc committee in terms of the rules is going to manage the elections of the President. The Vice President’s elections will be managed by the newly elected President. So, the explanations I am going to give therefore relate only to the election of the President.

First, I would like to announce that I received a withdrawal from the candidate who was standing initially for President from the North, honourable member from Tunisia, Honourable Muhamed Chafik Zarguine. Sorry, I can’t pronounce properly, but he withdrew.

Thank you. Therefore, in this case we have only one nominee, Honourable Bethel Amadi from the Western Caucus.

Thank you very much. So, the procedure is going to be the following towards the election of the President. I should say, I should preface this by saying that the rules require election, none the less. The fact that is one nominee, it does not mean we shall not have elections. For rules require elections. So, this is the procedure we are going to follow.

Voting, Rule 16 (6) reads as follows: the elections shall be by secret ballot and a simple majority of members present and voting. I repeat, the election shall be by secret ballot and a simple majority of members present and voting.

The next question is what is simple majority? I will just read the definition of simple majority from rule 1. Simple majority, from Rule 1, means the following: 50 per cent plus one. That’s what it means according to the definition in the Rules of Procedures. Therefore, it means that the election of the President will be confirmed if the votes that have been counted in his favour from the total of all the votes cast result in a simple majority. So, all the votes will be counted, good or bad, they will be counted from that total we shall then separate those that have expressed positively support to the President. So, that group of votes or that lot we shall look at it against a total votes cast if it gives us a simple majority or above then the President shall be duly elected.

In terms of voting itself, we have a ballot. This ballot paper has the name of the candidate for the presidency. The Chair says, I should show you the ballot papers. I don’t know if you will be able to see, the ballot papers here. It has only one name on it. And then there is a small box where Honourable Members should express their choice if they are supporting the candidate. They shall do so by putting an X mark in that block, that will be an indication that you are voting for the candidate to become the President.

The process; we shall start with the front roll, here, in front of us. We shall follow that order, we will call the front roll, and they will come and vote and so on. So, it will be rolls by rolls. Then the votes will be deposited here, honourable members will come go the box, put the X mark and they will come here and put their ballot paper inside the box and go back to their seats. So, this is the procedure we are going to follow. The Ushers are here, they will direct in terms of the first roll, second roll and so on.

Indeed, there have been instances of sole candidates standing for election as president not only in 2012 as in the case of late Hon. Bethel Amadi but also in the election of the first president of the continental parliament in March 2004 as one of the honourable members reminded the parliamentarians on May 28 during the debates:

HON. MEMBER: Thank you very much Mr. Chair. Although what honourable Khumalo has said is absolutely true and it will make life easier for us. But I would like to reiterate our practice in Addis Ababa when we left it with the fairest President of this Parliament. I remember there were two candidates, one of them withdrew and then we executed an election on the only one candidate. At that time there was a legal committee from the African Union. This means that, this represents the right practice. Let us go on although it is tedious, it is difficult, it is tough, but let us abide by that. Thank you very much.


It should also be noted that during the election of the Vice Presidents, there were also withdrawals from the race, leaving single candidates in some regions who stood for election as sole candidates. Here again, I turn to the PAP record of proceedings of May 28th, 2012:

THE CLERK: Hon. President, concerning the election of the Vice-Presidents, first, I would like to make an announcement of withdrawals.

Firstly, Hon. Sumar Highsale from Western Sahara has withdrawn. The second withdrawal is that of Hon. Massounga Nono from the Central Region. So, this means that we have one candidate from the North, the Central, two from the East and two from the South. However, owing to late withdrawals, we are unable, in one case, to delete the name. However, now that you know that there has been this withdrawal, I hope that we will not mislead you in the case of the Northern and the Central regions, as they both have only one candidate each.

As far as the procedure is concerned, as the President has said, we shall follow Rule 16. I will start from Rule 16, which reads:

“Sub section (6): the elections shall be by secret ballot and simple majority of the members present and voting.”

I think we have already dealt with this one.

“Sub section (7): where no candidate obtains a required majority or in the event of a tie, a second ballot shall be conducted but shall be restricted to the two candidates who obtained the highest or equal number of votes at the previous ballot. See REPORT OF THE PAN-AFRICAN PARLIAMENT, SEVENTH SESSION (May 28th, 2012).

It is therefore evident from the above record of proceedings that there has been instances of sole candidates for  both the office of the president and vice president such that it will not be necessary to attempt to create unnecessary tensions and divisions in the parliament. Africa must prevail and PAP must once again, return to the vision of “One Africa, One Voice”.

And to avoid a repeat of such embarrassing situations, it is hereby recommended that the new bureau when inaugurated, should strengthen and reposition the Research and Documentation Division even if with ad hoc support staff to provide necessary guidance to the plenary when such issues arise to protect the institutional credibility and integrity of the Pan African Parliament.

Olu Ibekwe is the Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the African Parliamentary Press Network, APPN a Network of African journalists and information officers reporting from regional, sub-regional and national Parliaments in Africa. APPN promotes parliamentary openness and cordial working relationship between Parliaments and the media and believes that a well mobilized and resourced press corps or galleries in all African parliaments will set the stage for the work of African Parliaments, including the Pan-African Parliament, to be made visible to the people of Africa.

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