PAP Protocol and the issue of Deliberative Body - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Monday, November 15, 2021

PAP Protocol and the issue of Deliberative Body

By Olu Ibekwe (

One of the contentious issues during the May 2021 Session of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) was the swearing in of delegations from countries whose members were not elected parliamentarians but claimed to fall within the “Deliberative body” as contained in the PAP Protocol.

It would be recalled that some parliamentarians had during the said May 2021 session contested the eligibility of some country delegations for admission into PAP on the ground that the countries did not have legislative assembly and that their parliamentarians were not democratically elected.

But instead of properly guiding the Parliament based on the provisions of the PAP Protocol and Rules of Procedure, the PAP Permanent Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline allowed the issue to be politicized.

Being an election session, the issue was viewed as an attempt to exclude some aspirants from contesting for bureau positions which was very unfortunate. Is it not possible for our African Parliamentarians to address  issues on merits without petty political considerations?

The aspirants from the affected country delegations argued that their respective countries had adopted their bodies as their legislative organs and designated them as delegation to the Pan African Parliament. Therefore, PAP cannot delve into their internal affairs.

It is my humble submission that such argument has no basis in both the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU) and the Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union Relating to the Pan African Parliament.

The Constitutive Act of the African Union: Unlike the OAU Charter, some of the principles that are enshrined in the Constitutive Act are the participation of African peoples and civil society organizations in the activities of the Union; respect for democratic principles, human rights, rule of law and good governance; and condemnation and rejection of unconstitutional changes of government. See Articles 3 and 4 of the Constitutive Act.

It is also noteworthy that the Constitutive Act created key new organs of the AU such as the Pan African Parliament which is to ensure the full participation of African people in governance, development and economic integration of the continent.

Invariably, the only way the African people can participate in governance at the continental level is through the election of their representatives at the Pan African Parliament.

It therefore follows that for anybody to qualify for admission into the continental parliament within the context of “deliberative body” is that members of such a body must be democratically elected by the people of that constituency. This is a basic requirement for any such body to fall within the meaning of “deliberative body” for admission into the PAP.

Members of a body appointed by the president or head of State of a country represents the interest of the person who appointed them and cannot be said to represent the African people.

The PAP Protocol: Additionally, the PAP Protocol provides guidance on the requirements before any country delegation can be considered a deliberative organ for admission into PAP. These are:

1.   Article 4(3) which state that the representation of each member state must reflect the diversity of political opinions in each National Assembly. This is a mandatory requirement as any delegation that does not comply with this requirement will not be accredited. This requirement has been interpreted by PAP to mean that the composition must be made up of members of both majority and minority political parties in parliament. Therefore, a body appointed by a head of state without an election to determine the diversity of political opinions within the country will not meet the requirement of Article 4(3) of the PAP Protocol.

2.   Article 5(3) of the Protocol states that the term of a member of the of PAP shall run concurrently with his or her term in the National Assembly. And as we all know, elected members of National Assemblies have terms or tenure unlike bodies appointed by a head of state which can be dissolved without notice based on the whims and caprices of the appointing authority.

Therefore, any country delegation that seeks to be admitted as a deliberative body within the meaning of the PAP Protocol must first be democratically elected as well as meet the requirement of diversity of political opinion and term of office.    


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