PAP Bureau Election Session: Implementation of rotation does not require ratification of the Malabo Protocol - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Friday, April 8, 2022

PAP Bureau Election Session: Implementation of rotation does not require ratification of the Malabo Protocol

By Olu Ibekwe (

On February 23 and 24, the African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson’s panel that was set up to investigate the crisis that led to the suspension of the last May 2021 session of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) held consultative meetings with some MPs from the Western, Eastern, Central and Northern Caucuses.

The consultations which took place at the African Union Secretariat in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia were held because it was alleged that the AUC delegation that visited the PAP Secretariat in September 2021 held consultation with the Southern Regional Caucus to the exclusion of the other four caucuses..

During the February consultations, the argument advanced against the implementation of rotational presidency at the resumed election session was that its implementation would require ratification of the Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union Relating to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) also known as the Malabo Protocol. Simply put, rotation cannot be implemented in the upcoming election session because the Malabo Protocol has not been ratified.

Such an argument coming after the 39th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council 14 – 15 October, in addition to being overtaken by the Executive Council decisions, is misplaced and untenable.

Undoubtedly, the issue of rotation was conclusively settled by the decisions of the 39th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council (14 – 15 October 2021) as well as the 40th Ordinary Session of the Executive Session thereby laying their argument to rest. And as we all know, the decisions of the Executive Council are binding on all member states, organs and institutions of the AU and cannot be revisited by the AUC Chairperson. If truth be told, the AUC Chairperson and his panel have no choice but to implement the Executive Council decision before the end of April 2022 or risk being sanctioned.

Secondly, the record of Proceedings of PAP (Friday May 11, 2007) put to rest, such arguments.

According to the record of proceedings of May 11, 2007, the first Order for that day was a Motion on the amendment of the Protocol and Rules of Procedure to facilitate rotation of membership of the Bureau” which was unanimously adopted.

Hon. Boyce Sebetela (Botswana) who moved the motion, said:

Mr. President, I move that the relevant amendments be effected in both the Protocol to the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community relating to the Pan African Parliament and the Rules of Procedure in the Pan African Parliament in the following aspects”.

“That under Article 12 of the Protocol regarding the tenure of members of the Bureau of the Pan African Parliament as read together with Rules 14, 15 and 16 of the Rules of Procedure of the Pan African Parliament and under Rule 23(6) of the Rules of Procedure regarding the tenure of the Bureau of the parliament and the Bureau of Regional Caucuses”.

“To provide that the membership shall rotate within the regions every three years with effect from 2009 in order to promote leadership change and renewal in the African continent”.

“It is my opinion that this Parliament must lead with respect to the issues of democracy”.

“I am arguing this morning that the Pan African Parliament, being the premier organization in the AU structures, responsible for giving the overall leadership must, perhaps, be an example in this area of promoting and entrenching a culture of leadership change in Africa”.

“So, it appears to me that this House must lead by example in this area so that when any President in any country where there are term limits were to attempt to go back, this House can speak from a platform that is based on our own Rules that tell us that even the Bureau of PAP should have a new leadership every three years”. See Record of Proceedings of May 11, 2007.

It is instructive to note that this motion was adopted during the First Parliament of the Pan African Parliament to amend the rules of procedure of the parliament to allow for rotation with effect from 2009 and to include it in the revision process of the PAP Protocol.

So, the parliament which has the inherent power to amend its own rules, did so on May 11, 2007 and in fact, ensured that this principle was included in the revised protocol which was adopted in 2014.

In other words, having amended its rules to include the principle of rotation which took effect in 2009, the parliament went further to propose that the principle be considered in the review process of the PAP Protocol. It will therefore be illogical to now argue that rotation can only be implemented after the ratification of the Malabo Protocol when it was the adoption of the motion on rotation that made it possible for it to be considered during the review process, undertaken in consultation with the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC).

As we all are aware, the plenary is the highest decision making organ of the parliament and its decisions are final and binding on all the other organs of the parliament including the Bureau. So when the plenary passed the motion on rotation, it became the official policy of the Pan African Parliament. No other organ of the parliament has the right to veto or hinder its implementation. And to be best of my knowledge that motion has till date not been amended or vacated.

The disagreements over the implementation of principle of rotation in the election of the president of PAP which resulted in the de facto indefinite suspension of plenary is quite unfortunate because the sponsor of the May 11, 2007 motion intended to prevent such crisis from happening. Hon. Andre Obami-Itou (Congo Republic) who also spoke in support of the motion said “We need to apply this principle of rotation, in order to avoid all sorts of politicking that we are witnessing in the corridors and after meetings of bureaux of our committees”.

Sadly, it is the kind of politicking that the sponsors of the May 11, 2007 motion wanted to avoid that has resulted in the closure of PAP for the past eleven (11) months!

It is also unfortunate that PAP which wanted to be a pace setter when it passed the motion on rotation, and wanted to put itself on a higher moral ground so as to oversight the other organs, has ended up to be the last AU organ/ institution to fully implement rotation and some MPs are still protesting! This is quite regrettable!

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