PAP Southern Region Caucus calls on AU to constitute a panel to conduct election of President. - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

PAP Southern Region Caucus calls on AU to constitute a panel to conduct election of President.

The Southern Region Caucus of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) has called on the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC Chairperson), H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat to preside over the November 16, 2021 resumed election session until the election of a president who shall thereafter preside pursuant to Article 13(1) of the PAP Protocol.

This was contained in a position paper presented to the five-member delegation set up by the AUC Chairperson made up of five senior officers from the Commission and the PRC who were in Midrand, South Africa from 27 to 30 September 2021 to undertake fact-finding mission to the Secretariat of PAP.

At the end of their visit, the panel submitted a progress report to the AUC Chairperson which may have formed part of the deliberations by the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) in preparation for the Executive Council meeting scheduled for next week in Addis Ababa.

The Caucus called on the AUC Chairperson as the Chief Executive Officer and legal representative of the AU to constitute a panel to conduct the November PAP Presidential election that complies with the decisions of the policy organs of the AU.

It noted that the inability of PAP to conduct election for the president and the other members of the Bureau during the last May/June session has put the parliament in the March 2004 pre-inauguration position when PAP had no bureau.

The Caucus accordingly called on the AU to invoke Article 13(1) of the PAP Protocol to preside over the November election until the election of a president who shall thereafter preside.

It also called on the AUC Chairperson to pursuant to Article 3(2)(c) of the Statute of the Commission, to ensure that PAP complies with decisions of the AU policy organs on geographic rotation of offices.

“The televised events at the elective session of the Bureau of PAP in May-June 2021 precipitated by conflict of interpretation of the Rotation Principle were undeniably an embarrassment for the continent and sent negative impressions about the leadership of our continental body. The notable negative impressions are disunity, disorderliness, inequality, monopoly over leadership, domination of regions over others and/or impression of superiority of certain nations and/or regions in the leadership of the African political sphere. These impressions are antithetical to the values, norms, principles and traditions of the African Union”.

 This clearly undermines our quest for continental unity, regional integration and the promotion of diversity of leadership amongst the regional caucuses within the framework of the African Union. What we have today is a blatant violation of the AU principles driven by invisible barriers imposed on us by our erstwhile colonial masters through colonial languages as well as personal and regional interests”.

The release noted that the “Rotation Principle has been acknowledged and implicitly practiced by the PAP as evidenced by the fact that the founding President of PAP, Hon Gertrude Mongella, who presided over the PAP from 2004 to 2009, is from Tanzania (Eastern Region). She was succeeded by the late Hon Idriss Ndele Moussa from 2009 to 2012 who was from Chad (Central Region). Dr. Moussa was succeeded by the late Hon. Bethel Amadi from Nigeria (Western Region) who led the PAP from 2012 to 2015. Regrettably, 2015 marked the flagrant subversion of this time-honoured principle.

“The expectation in 2015 was that the Northern region which has seven (7) countries and the Southern Region with ten (10) countries and representing a numerical minority when compared to other regions would, at the end of late Hon Amadi’s Presidency, be accorded the opportunity to vie for the Presidency. Regrettably, in 2015, that expectation was truncated when the Rotation Principle was subverted and/or disrupted”

 “The PAP had on May 11, 2007, passed a resolution adopting rotational presidency by a more than two-thirds majority vote with 149 in favour and 20 against. The resolution provides that “membership of the PAP Bureau, the Bureaux and the Bureaux of Regional Caucuses shall rotate within regions every three years with effect from 2009”. That was the motivation for the afore stated subsequent sequence of rotation in the leadership that was then adopted at PAP which began with the Eastern region, Central and West before the violation that occurred in 2015. In May 2017, the PAP for a second time passed a resolution adopting rotational presidency”.

“In July 2017, the AU Executive Council in EX.CL/Dec.979(XXXI) which was reaffirmed in EX.CL/Dec.1018(XXXIII) (June 2018) called upon the PAP to apply the African Union values, rules and regulations in managing all activities of the organ, including rotation of the Bureau and presidency”. 

These two decisions substantively reflected a prior decision of the Executive Council enunciated in January 2016 vide its decision EX.CL/Dec.907(XXVIII) where it clearly mandated adherence to the principle of rotation irrespective of whether the principle of Geographical Rotation is mentioned in the relevant legal instruments establishing those organs, bodies and/or institutions”.

It is this body of laws that informed the AU Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion by a letter referenced BC/OLC/23.18/10814.21, where he stated that “the principle of geographical rotation is a well-established principle within the Union. The letter concluded by stating further that “Any Election of the PAP Bureau that doesn’t respect the mentioned decisions on geographical rotations shall be deemed illegal”.

In addition to the afore stated clear pronouncements by the AU on the imperative of the PAP complying with the principle of rotation, it is also instructive to note that within the AU Organs itself right up to the AU Assembly, the Rotation Principle invariably applies and has worked well regardless of numerical sizes of AU Geographic Regions since its formation in 1963. A case in point is the AU Peace and Security Council wherein the five regions alternate leadership in the Organ notwithstanding the different numerical sizes. The rotation principle is thus not a fleeting norm which any individual and/or region can choose to selectively apply, but is the bedrock of democracy and the very foundation of continental integration and equity”

Doubtless, the AU’s position on rotational presidency is clear and unambiguous and with the PAP having passed resolutions on rotational presidency initially in 2007 by two-thirds majority and again in 2017, the argument of “retroactive” application of rotation is disingenuous and constitutes a blatant attempt to negate established rules of practice and norms”.

No wonder at the 2021, May-June electoral session, the Central Caucus in collusion with Eastern and Western Caucuses relying on the tyranny of numbers ganged up to in effect, embark on flagrant disregard and disobedience of Executive Council decisions taken in 2016, 2017 and 2018 as well PAP resolutions of 2007 and 2015 on rotation”.

The resultant insistence by the Southern Region to return the parliament to a position of compliance to this mandatory policy on rotation cannot be construed as a retroactive application of rotation principle when failure to do so will constitute an endorsement of an intervening violation by one region without regard to its prejudicial effect on the interest of the other affected regions”.

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