PAP Crisis: Consultative Meeting records low participation - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Thursday, January 11, 2024

PAP Crisis: Consultative Meeting records low participation

A virtual Consultative Meeting convened on Wednesday January 10 for members of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) to discuss the election modalities for By-Election in the Bureau recorded very low participation by the parliamentarians who heeded the advice by the chairpersons of the five regional caucuses not to participate in what they described as an illegal meeting. The Regional Caucus Chairpersons at PAP are: Hon. Alhagie Mbow, Western Caucus Chairperson; Hon. Pemmy Majodina, Southern Caucus Chairperson; Hon. Jaynet Kabila, Central Caucus Chairperson;  Hon. Terrence Mondon, Eastern Caucus Chairperson; and Hon. Abdelmajid Azzedine, Northern Caucus Chairperson.

In an earlier statement calling for the boycott of the meeting, the Regional Caucus Chairpersons recalled a letter dated 18 October 2023 where on the advice of the Office of Legal Counsel, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) noted that the Bureau as presently constituted is inquorate to take any binding administrative or management decisions such that any meeting convened at the instance of such an inquorate Bureau is illegal. The AUC Chairperson’s memo clarified that:

i.        “The current membership of the Bureau, comprising the 2nd and 3rd Vice Presidents, does not have the requisite quorum and, accordingly, cannot make binding administrative, financial and management decisions on the affairs and facilities of PAP and its Organs until the Bureau has the appropriate quorum;”

ii.      “Any such decisions taken by the inquorate Bureau should be considered invalid and cannot be implemented to safeguard the African Union from potential liability;”

iii.    “Pending the finalization of the mission and the resultant transitional measures to be proposed, the Clerk of the Pan-African Parliament Secretariat was authorized to take administrative, financial and management decisions subject, where appropriate, to the approval of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.”

The Regional Caucus Chairpersons reminded the parliamentarians that the 2011 version of the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure does not have any provision for virtual meetings insisting that it is the 2022 suspended Rules that made provision for virtual meetings. They also noted that a code of conduct cannot be used to prescribe the procedure for conducting elections outside that stipulated in the Rules of Procedure noting specifically that Rule 15 is clear on the nomination process for candidates while Rule 84 provides for the role of regional caucuses in the nomination of candidates. Rule 16 prescribes the method for conducting Bureau election including Rule 16(3) which prescribes an Ad Hoc Committee five-members constituted by an elected representative from each Regional Caucus shall organize and preside over the election of the President. Rule 13 states that “In all matters Members shall be guided in their behaviour by the Code of Conduct to be drafted by the Permanent Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline”.

Consequently, such a code of conduct under the Rules of the Parliament must only confine itself to behavioral matters such as how members conduct themselves both within and outside the precincts of Parliament, how they relate with the media, how they relate with staff. Code of Conduct cannot be used to amend or circumvent the provisions of the Rules of Procedure.

Above all, the amendments to the Rule of Procedure of the Parliament were only temporarily suspended the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and it is only the policy organs of the African Union that has the authority to make pronouncements on the compatibility of the provisions of the amended rules with the PAP Protocol. Until that determination is made, it is premature to talk about conduct of by-election for members of the Bureau without a valid declaration of vacancy.   

“We therefore want to use this opportunity to thank parliamentarians for heeding our call not to participate in the illegal meeting. The attempt to ambush the Parliamentarians into endorsing a nicodemously prepared code of conduct for election has failed woefully. We urge you to continue to be patient as the policy organs of the AU will be addressing the issue of PAP in February with a view to returning the Parliament to full normalcy” wrote the Regional Chairpersons.

One of the parliamentarians who participated in the virtual meeting informed our correspondent that there were less than thirty (30) parliamentarians in attendance and went on to share a screenshot of the attendance list. “As you know, when participating in a zoom meeting, you can view the list of participants and then screenshot it, which means that one cannot thereafter manipulate the list”. He also disclosed that a number of the parliamentarians, who logged in for the meeting, did so out of curiosity and not because of any desire to participate and expressed their preference for a physical meeting as the only way to address the issues facing the parliament.

The parliamentarian disclosed that at no point during the meeting was code of conduct shared to those in attendance and that no resolutions were submitted for consideration or adoption.

This position was corroborated by Hon. Dr. Ashebir W. Gayo in a chat with our correspondent. Dr. Gayo stated that a consultative meeting does not necessarily require quorum and that it was also not necessary to adopt resolutions as it is an informal gathering, although he maintained that there was quorum, a claim contradicted by a screenshot of the record of attendance in our possession.

Reacting, the Chairperson of the Western Regional Caucus at PAP, Hon. Alhagie Mbow described a publication describing the virtual meeting as successful as “misinformation”. He stated that “Only the Committee on Rules have the mandate to prepare the grounds for elections and not a one man Bureau. This is a futile exercise to test the intelligence and integrity of the members of Parliament but be assured, we are up for the task. The days of creating chaos for self centered interests are gone. We will do what it takes to ensure we work for the people of Africa but only ethically and respectfully observing the rules that bound us. There is no issue of rotation and must not be used to mask your intentions. The PAP belongs to the people of Africa and will remain so”.

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