Development Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Politics

PAP Regional Caucuses Chairpersons Urge African Union to stop Gayo from destroying Parliament

Moussa Faki Mahamat

Regional Caucuses of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) have written a letter of complaint to His Excellency, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Headquarters, and brought to his attention the unabated and flagrant disrespect of the AU Policy Organs as well as the sustained defilement of his directives, the PAP Protocol, the PAP Rules of Procedure, the AU Staff Rules and Regulations and the tenets of good corporate governance by the 2nd Vice President, Hon. Dr. Ashebir Woldegiorgis Gayo.

The regional chairpersons who jointly signed the letter to the AUC Chairperson are Hon Alhagie Mbow from the Western Caucus; Hon Terrence Mondon from the Eastern Caucus; Hon Abdelmajid Azzedine from the Northern Caucus; and Hon Pemmy Majodina from the Southern Caucus.

The Task Force on the Situation at PAP, which Hon Mahamat mandated to conduct a fact-finding mission to PAP and present its report to the policy organs for determination, duly presented its report to the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) on Thursday 1st February 2024.

The PRC endorsed the findings and recommendations of the Task Force, specifically.

Key among the recommendations was that:

  • The PAP plenary session should be convened before the end of March 2024 at the PAP precincts in South Africa to fill the vacancies in the PAP.
  • The Commission should oversee the election process of Bureau members to ensure transparency and independence, following the guidelines developed by the Office of the Legal Counsel.
  • Some of the administrative decisions unilaterally taken by the Acting President without following rules and established due process should be reviewed and potentially reversed to safeguard the Union from considerable legal and financial risks;
  • The Bureau is to comply with the requirements outlined in Article 12(7) Of the PAP Protocol and Rule 19 of the 2011 PAP Rules of Procedure. Specifically, to adhere to the practice of serving as an acting president on a rotational basis between the Second and Third Vice Presidents.

Notwithstanding the aforestated pronouncement of a clear roadmap towards resolving the leadership crisis at PAP by the PRC, which is due for consideration by the Executive Council and the Assembly of Heads of State and Government this month, Hon. Dr. Gayo has proceeded to dispatch a letter to national Parliaments inviting PAP Members for an elective session to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 28th February 2024. Several issues emerge from that correspondence:

  • Dr. Gayo cannot schedule an elective session before the Executive Council and the Assembly of Heads of State and Government have determined the situation at PAP. In doing so, Hon. Dr. Gayo is undermining the authority of the AU Policy Organs and deliberately disregarding the roadmap laid out by Hon Mahamat towards the resolution of this crisis. This cannot continue unabated.
  • Hon Dr. Gayo cannot oversee the elective session as he is the instigator of the current crisis and is, therefore, conflicted. He is aware that the PRC has recommended that the Commission should oversee the election process of Bureau members to ensure transparency and independence and is, therefore, trying to pre-empt this process and ensure that he presides over the elective session. Hon. Dr. Gayo cannot be allowed to preside over the elective session if both the AU and the PAP are to protect their integrity. He has already tried to bar qualified PAP Members from contesting in the elections through the unlawful amendment of the Code of Conduct for Elections. Any election conducted under his watch will only fan the crisis at PAP and will be a sham and an embarrassment to both PAP and the Union.
  • The 2nd Vice President does not have the power to override the decisions of the policy organs as the PRC has recommended that the elective session should be held at the PAP precincts in Midrand, South Africa. Additionally, Rule 34 of the PAP Rules of Procedures affirms that only the Bureau can decide on the venue of the session. Hon. Dr. Gayo cannot, therefore, unilaterally change the venue to Addis Ababa.
  • The PRC has recommended that the Acting Presidency should rotate between Dr. Gayo and the 3rd Vice President, Hon. Lucia Dos Passos in line with Article 12(7) of the PAP Protocol and Rule 19 of the PAP Rules of Procedure (2011). Hon. Dr. Gayo has served as Acting President since August 2023 when he unilaterally took over the position of Acting President and yet Acting Presidency, by custom and practice, is held on rotation for one month at most. Hon. Dr. Gayo realises that his time is up and is, therefore, trying to fast-track his agenda of unseating the PAP President before he loses the Acting Presidency.
  • The letter to national Parliaments was signed by an unlawfully appointed Acting Clerk, Mr. Jan Jalloh, the Head of Documentation. Mr. Jan Jalloh, at P3, is not qualified to serve in that position ahead of more senior colleagues at P5 who have either been suspended or overlooked by Hon. Dr. Gayo because they refused to implement his unlawful directives. Hon. Dr. Gayo’s actions have put the PAP in disarray as senior officers now have to report to an Acting Clerk who is junior to them in rank.
  • The AUC Chairperson’s office has already directed that the current membership of the Bureau, comprising the 2nd and 3rd Vice President, 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. Hon. Dr. Gayo, therefore, does not have the authority to call for an elective session.
  • Finally, Rule 29 of the PAP Rules of Procedure states that an Extraordinary Session can only be convened at the behest of two-thirds of the Members of the Pan African Parliament and not a single member acting as a ‘sole administrator’ of a continental institution.

Given the foregoing, the PAP regional chairpersons implored the AUC Chairperson to take decisive action against the excesses of Hon. Dr. Gayo and immediately put a stop to these actions which, if left unchecked, will not only undermine the credibility of the African Union, but will further deepen the crisis at PAP and leave the Union vulnerable to potential litigation.

The Regional Caucus Chairpersons re-emphasised that they shall not participate in any activity initiated by the 2nd Vice President and will continue to advise Parliamentarians from their respective regions to refrain from doing so until the Policy Organs give a conclusive determination on the matter

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende