Pan-African Parliament suspended indefinitely after days of chaos delays presidency vote

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  • The Pan-African Parliament will suspend the session after failing to elect a new president.
  • The session was the scene of chaos for a third day over voting disputes.
  • The move is in favour of the southern African delegation's calls for a delay and African Union intervention.

The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) suspended a vote on its presidency on Tuesday after it was already delayed by days of scuffles and discontent.

PAP Secretariat spokesperson Jeffrey Onganga confirmed the suspension. He said the suspension is indefinite and a date would be confirmed at a later stage. The session was supposed to run from 21 May to 4 June.

The delay is a win for the southern African caucus who refused to go ahead with the vote unless the process was reformed to a rotational presidency.

Until now, the position has been decided by the number of votes attained. The president heads up the PAP's bureau, which is responsible for the management and administration of the continental parliament. The bureau consists of four vice-presidents, whose seniority is decided by the number of votes attained.

Pan African Parliament members gather in groups
Pan African Parliament members gather in groups inside the house following its postponement in Midrand, Johannesburg on 1 June 2021.

The southern African caucus has refused to go ahead with the vote, calling instead for the African Union (AU) to intervene in the dispute. At the centre of Tuesday's chaos was a letter, believed to be from the AU and sent to the PAP clerk, supporting the call for rotation. Delegates from West and East Africa disputed the validity of the letter.

Southern African delegates – including ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina, veteran ANC politician Amos Masondo and EFF leader Julius Malema – said their call for rotation was in line with the AU's own regulation. They said it would ensure fairness and greater transparency.

Physical altercations, heated disputes

The southern Africans are outnumbered by their counterparts in West and East Africa, who are each backing a candidate for the presidency. The PAP has 229 members, with national parliaments from each member state allowed to send up to five MPs.

The West and East African caucuses accuse acting president Chief Fortune Charumbira of using the delay to hold onto power. Charumbira, from Zimbabwe, is the southern African caucus' presidential candidate.

A member of the Malian delegation told News24 the postponement had not been communicated to them, but conceded they could not see how the vote could go ahead on Wednesday after the mayhem of the last two days.

Mali's Haidara Aichata Cisse is one of three presidential candidates. During the parliamentary shouting match, MPs raised Mali's domestic politics, saying a military coup in that country last week should preclude it from participating in the AU.

Albino Mathom Ayuel Aboug from South Sudan is the preferred candidate from the East African bloc.

After physical altercations and heated disputes, the PAP has called off its presidential election.

The current bureau's mandate expired in May. The PAP is yet to comment on how this will affect the functioning of the organisation until the next vote.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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