Pan-African Parliament opens

2012-10-08 22:21

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Midrand - The (Pan-) African Parliament opened on Monday for a third five-year term, with serious concerns over its relevancy as the body has no legislative powers.

The body has been a talk shop since its inception in 2004, two years after the African Union was formed, but Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi, the current president of the AU, promised his support to the parliament's aspiration to become a continental legislature.

"We must support a legislative arm at continental level elected by universal suffrage," Yayi told parliamentarians in Midrand close to Johannesburg.

"They will involve some changes for the constitutive act of the AU to give the [parliament] continental legitimacy," he said.

African heads of state last July shelved proposals to give the Pan-African Parliament additional powers at their summit in Addis Ababa.

"This is possibly because of fears an African legislature would erode the powers of their parliaments," said PAP president Bethel Amadi of Nigeria.

"Such fears are groundless. Change is inevitable," he added.

"Being transformed into a legislative body will be a small step forward for the PAP but a giant leap for the voiceless people of Africa," he said.

Elected for five-year terms, the parliament sits for three weeks twice a year in Midrand.

- SAPA
Read more on:    south africa  |  southern africa
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