PAP Election Session: Report of the AUC Chairperson’s Ad Hoc Committee and matters arising - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Friday, May 20, 2022

PAP Election Session: Report of the AUC Chairperson’s Ad Hoc Committee and matters arising

Opinion by Olu Ibekwe (

The head of the African Union Chairperson’s Ad Hoc Committee on the incident at PAP, Mr. Ratebaye Tordeta recently presented a seemingly controversial report to the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) on the outcome of their consultative meetings held on 23 – 24 February with regional parliamentary caucuses of the Pan African Parliament (PAP).

Having carefully perused the said report, I am of the opinion that it should not have been admitted by the PRC and so, ought to be expunged from the record of the said meeting. Additionally, the PRC should direct the immediate disbandment of the Committee to avoid further damage to the institutional credibility of the African Union.

This is because the decision of the 39th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council (14 – 15 October 2021) EX.CL/Dec.1128(XXXIX) which specifically directed the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) to manage and organize the PAP election session essentially divested the AUC Committee of any further responsibility or indeed any role in managing the election session.

Instructively, the Bureau of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government has, subsequent to the presentation of the said report, directed that PAP election be held in May 2022 in Midrand, South Africa observing the principle of rotation. Since under Article 6 of the Constitutive Act, the Assembly is the supreme organ of the AU, the PRC should not give this Ad Hoc Committee any other opportunity for mischief.

It is also submitted that henceforth, If the PRC wants to be briefed on anything pertaining to the PAP election, the OLC should as a statutory creation of the Assembly, be directly invited to give such briefing, as opposed to an inferior ad hoc Committee constituted by the AUC Chairperson. This is because, the Executive Council specifically gave directives to the OLC to conduct and manage the election session. The Council only requested the attendance of the AUC Chairperson at the session.

The Committee’s Lack of jurisdiction

As noted earlier, the Executive Council in EX.CL/Dec.1128(XXXIX) (Decision  1128) directed that PAP elections should be in line with the principle of rotation that was adopted by PAP in May 2007 and that the election should be held at its Head Quarters in Midrand, South Africa, as per its Protocol, as soon as possible. Consequently, only regions that have not previously held the position are eligible to present candidates for election of the PAP President through their Regional Caucuses.

Thus the Executive Council made it abundantly clear that the OLC is to conduct and manage the elections process and elaborate the elections modalities within the established Rules and Regulations of the Union and the relevant Executive Council decisions on the principle of rotation.

The implication of this directive is that the Committee being an ad hoc creation of the AUC Chairperson ceased to exist the moment the Executive Council took a decision on the issue. It cannot under any guise, supersede itself above the OLC to begin to manage the election session. Any other responsibility assigned to the Committee has been overtaken by the Executive Council decision and has become moot. Being an ad hoc Committee that submitted its report in October 2021 to the PRC on the basis of which recommendations were made and decisions taken by the Executive Council, it has for all intents and purposes, completed its assignment and should have adjourned sine die or be disbanded.

Regrettably, the Ad Hoc Committee has turned into a meddlesome interloper by delving into issues that had been assigned by the Executive Council to the OLC. A committee made up of AUC staffers cannot sit to in effect, alter, modify, review or vary the decisions of the Executive Council which are binding on all the organs and institutions as well as member states of the African Union.  

Committee’s terms of reference has been overtaken by events

According to the said Committee report, the terms of reference of the Committee which was given in September 2021, before the Executive Council decision in October in October 2021 are:

v  Establish account of events leading to and during the incident from 27 May to 01 June, 2021;

v  Advise the Chairperson of the Commission in the form of findings, conclusion and recommendations to address the issues that transpired during the incident; and

v  Facilitate consensus among regions to conduct election of the Bureau and Bureaux of PAP in line with relevant decisions of the policy Organs and consequently resume the work of the Parliament as soon as possible.

It would be recalled that the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat had on 01 June 2021, directed the suspension of parliamentary activities at PAP for thirty (30) days following disagreements over the application of rotation in the election of the president of the Parliament. He subsequently set up the ad hoc committee with the above terms of reference.

Since the issue that led to the suspension of parliamentary activities has been resolved by the Executive Council which also directed the OLC to conduct and organize the election session, the other issues contained in the stated terms of reference can only be addressed by PAP after the election of a new bureau in accordance with the rules of procedure of the parliament.

This is because Article 17 of the Constitutive Act of the AU which established the Pan African Parliament, states that the composition, powers, functions and organization of the parliament shall be defined in the protocol relating thereto. A staff of the Commission not being a member of the parliament cannot lead an investigation into issues that fall within the powers of PAP without recourse to the rules of procedure of the parliament, and this includes inquiry into events that led to the suspension of plenary.

Flawed methodology employed by the Committee

A perusal of the report shows that the Committee employed the following methodology:

v  Listen to the assessment of the incidents of May/ June 2021 from each of the five (5) regional caucuses

v  Through constructive dialogue, interrogate proposals and explore for consensus in the context of the Executive Council decision 1128

v  Review written submission, if any.

Obviously, the methodology employed by the Committee as stated above did not take into consideration, the fact that a verbatim record of proceedings is maintained by PAP including video of the incident even at YouTube. So, any objective attempt at investigating the disagreements must include a careful review of these records. Did the Committee forget the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words or that the parliamentarian from Senegal who does not want to go to South Africa, has a personal reason for that?.

There is no evidence that the Committee requested for the verbatim report of proceedings and video recordings of the May 2021 Session to corroborate the statements of those who appeared before it. There is no evidence that the Committee called for the submission of memoranda or written statements. The Committee made controversial findings that could have been verified by going through records maintained by PAP and the OLC. For example, the Committee made statements about the need for PAP to amend its rules before rotation can be enforced contrary to its earlier report that PAP plenary did in fact, pass a resolution on rotation. Why did the Committee not call on the PAP Secretariat to provide record of proceedings of the parliament for the date in question, instead of submitting a report that muddled up the issues with the sole purpose of arriving at a pre-determined false and misleading conclusion?

The consultative meeting was uncalled for, overtaken by events and diversionary

Interestingly, the Committee stated in paragraph 1.7 of the report that:

“In the course of the mission, the Committee received a written request from the Southern Regional Caucus which sought the audience with the Committee. After careful consideration of the request, the Committee decided to hear the Southern Caucus provided that the discussion will not be reflected in the report to be submitted to the Member States until all the other Caucuses were met”.

By the above admission, the Committee did not consider the submission of the Southern Caucus in their report to the Commission on the basis of which the Executive Council took its decision. So, if indeed the Committee met with the Southern Caucus on the condition that it will not be reflected in the report, why was heavy weather made about the Committee meeting with the Southern Caucus to the exclusion of the other Caucuses? What prejudice or injury did those regions suffer since the discussion with the Southern Region was not reflected in its report? Did those regions submit any written memoranda or documents that necessitated reopening the case after the Executive Council decision on the matter?

Other collateral issues

Ordinarily, one would have expected that a report of this nature would contain an appendix listing the parliamentarians that attended the session and a summary of their respective statements and presentations on the basis of which recommendations were made. This would have enabled an objective analysis of the basis for its recommendations leaving one to conclude that the Committee set out to do a hatchet job.

Secondly, there were innuendos about the issuance of conflicting legal opinions by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). If I may ask, why would the Committee entertain insinuations about the OLC opinions when a legal officer from that office is supposedly a member of the Committee? Couldn’t that member have clarified the issue instead of portraying the OLC as a confused institution that issued conflicting opinions? Did the opinion of May 30, 2021 not emanate from the OLC and was it not issued in the course of normal business? Was it not obvious that the OLC opinion issued in 2015 was overtaken by the Executive Council decisions issued in January 2016 as well as other subsequent ones?

The OLC opinion issued on May 30, 2021 noted that the Executive Council instructed different AU organs to apply the principle of rotation in line with the Decision of the Executive Council adopted in January 2016 (EX.CL/Dec.907(XXVIII)), regardless if the principle of Geographical Rotation is mentioned in the legal instruments establishing those organs, bodies and/or institutions. Does this not on its face, explain the difference between the 2015 and 2021 opinions?

“The implementation of rotation is in line with Executive Council Decision EX.CL/Dec.979(XXXI) adopted In June 2017, where the Council 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…’ and EX.CL/Dec1018(XXXIII)adopted in June 2018 where it requested ‘the PAP to comply with the principle of geographical rotation among the five regions of Africa in future elections of the Bureau”. Does this not settle the issue?

Another worrisome area of the report is the allegation of threats and unruly behavior of some members necessitating the demand for change of venue for the session. The sweeping conclusion that MP’s from the Eastern, Central and Western region were “unequivocally opposed” for “security reasons”, to holding PAP elections in Midrand, South Africa, and had instead opted for change of venue to Ethiopia or Senegal makes one to question the validity of that conclusion in the absence the list of parliamentarians that attended the consultative meetings. For example the Western Caucus has twelve current member states, not counting those on suspension. How many parliamentarians from the twelve countries supported the conclusion reached by the Committee? An objective report would have contained the number of countries (as well as number of MPs from those countries) that indicated unwillingness to attend the election session if held in South Africa. The same can be said of the Central and Eastern regions. In any case, since the issue of venue had been settled by the Executive Council, one wonders if the ad hoc committee was engaging in review of Executive Council decision.

There is also a general concern that the Committee report contains enormous damaging security representations against the government of South Africa and a Member State of the AU. Although such unguarded representation of security risk may have been manipulated to accommodate a narrow political agenda if left unrebutted, it will significantly tarnish South Africa’s global standing and continental reputation on security with far reaching international repercussions. The Committee therefore went too far in executing their hatchet job of instigating a change of venue for the election session.

Another discrepancy in the report can be seen on page 6 where it was reported that the Kingdom of Morocco expressed the view that new members will have to be duly sworn including members from the Kingdom of Morocco before the proposed session and that due to safety and security concerns, the upcoming session should be held outside South Africa. In other words, those who attended the consultative meeting from the Kingdom Morocco are yet to be sworn in as members of the PAP and so, had no locus attending a meeting for PAP MPs to look at issues that happened in May/June 2021. And if they were yet to be sworn as PAP members, what is their basis for demanding a change of venue?

An observation can be made from the above that there was no accreditation to ascertain whether those who participated in the consultative meetings were indeed, bona fide PAP members. This is worsened by the fact that no attendance list was attached to the report to enhance its credibility.


An ad hoc committee constituted by the AUC Chairperson cannot in the guise of executing its assignment, arrogate to itself the authority to review, modify or vary clear and unambiguous decisions of the Executive Council in violation of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, Rule 35 of the Rules of Procedure of the Executive Council and the decisions of the policy organs of the Union.

Noting that the issue of rotation and venue for the session has been settled and consistently reaffirmed by the Executive Council, it appears that the ad hoc committee’s report is a delay tactic to frustrate the implementation of a mandatory decision of the Executive Council. Why waste the resources of the Union on such a glaring issue for which there was no disagreement among the statutorily established bodies as the OLC, the PRC and the Executive Council all of which reached the same conclusion? What message is the AUC trying to convey?

It should further be noted that Rule 5(b), Rules of Procedure of the Executive Council states that it is the Executive Council that shall determine the issues to be submitted to the Assembly for decisions. And since there is no decision of the Executive Council on record that has determined that this matter should be referred to the Assembly, why is the AUC creating disharmony among the AU organs and institutions?

By refusing to promptly implement the decision of the Executive Council which did not create any new rule but merely reaffirmed previous decisions dating back to 2016 on the settled issue of rotation, the Dr. Alex Ratebaye led Committee has indeed placed themselves above the policy organs and relevant institutions of the AU. This act of impunity should not be tolerated. 

It will therefore, not be out of place to call on the PCR to begin investigation for possible sanctions against the AUC officials who aided and abetted in perpetuating the vacuum in the leadership of PAP over disagreement over issues that were settled by Decision 1128 in October 2021. 

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