Posted by: africanpressorganization | 21 October 2010

South Africa / Second Conference of African Parliamentary Speakers held in Midrand





South Africa / Second Conference of African Parliamentary Speakers held in Midrand



JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, October 21, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Presidents of Senates and National Assemblies across Africa met here in the Chamber of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) today to brainstorm on critical issues of concern. Specifically, they were looking at the transformation of the PAP into a fully legislative continental institution, regional integration and the ratification of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. The Second Speakers’ Conference is organized by the Pan-African Parliament under the theme “Continental Consultative Dialogue on the Review of the Protocol of the Pan-African Parliament and the Ratification of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance”.

The President of the PAP, Hon Dr Moussa Idriss Ndélé opened the conference by noting that the meeting will “help to fasten the link between PAP, regional and national parliaments across Africa”. He further insisted on “the necessity to transform the PAP to a fully legislative organ of the African Union”. Hon Ndélé also emphasized the need for eleven countries to ratify the African Charter before the year 2011.

The Secretary General of the African Association of Kings, Sultans, Sheikhs, Princesses and Traditional Rulers, Mr Jean-Jacques Ben also addressed the Conference saying “our wish is to see the Pan-African Parliament play its full role in the development of the African continent”. On her part, the Association’s member, Queen Mara Toro of Uganda said “traditional rulers should be part of the larger democratic process. We are not competing with political leaders of the continent. Our two institutions are rather complimentary”.

The representative of the East African Legislative Assembly, Hon Dan Kidega saluted the brotherly relations between the two sister institutions. He further pledged his Assembly’s support in pressing on its member states to ratify and implement the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

On his part, the Vice President of the Arab Transitional Parliament, Hon Sheikh Nasir Almaoly said they want “to strengthen Arab-Arab relations and Arab-African relations”.

Representatives of the parliaments of the Southern, Central and West African sub regions, HRH Hon Prince Guduza Dlamini, Hon Pierre Ngolo and Hon Mahamane Ousmane all stood in favour of the PAP transformation and ratification of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. Their interventions were all built on the fact that “Africa stands to gain from the transformation of PAP and the ratification of the said charter”.

A key topic on the agenda was the report on the review of the Protocol establishing the Pan-African Parliament. Some of the proposals for the revision of the PAP Protocol include:

That there be five parliamentarians from each country and that they be elected by National Parliaments established as electoral colleges.

That to ensure gender balance, “at least two of either sex” out of the five be selected to represent their country.

That diversity of political opinion (majority/opposition) should be guaranteed among the elected representatives of each country designated to PAP.

That the PAP parliamentarians do not necessarily have to be MPs in their own countries, and if they were, they should resign from their National Parliaments before taking up duties at the PAP, since Pan-African Parliamentarians should be able to dedicate their time exclusively to this assignment under a PAP with legislative powers.

That the tenure of office of Pan-African Parliamentarians should be five years renewable.

Another proposal in addition to the five year term of parliamentarians was that Bureau Members be eligible for a term of two and half years renewable once.

In terms of the functions and power of the PAP, the following areas were proposed for parliamentarians to deal with: Harmonization of laws in Africa; AU citizenship and the free movement of persons; adoption of AU Treaties and Agreements; and the Rules of Procedure.

On the matter of African Union Treaties and Agreements, the following were proposed:

After approval by the AU Assembly of the Heads of State and Government, the draft of a treaty or agreement should be submitted to the Parliament for consideration and adoption.

The Parliament does not have powers to modify text of the draft as approved by the Assembly, but may send the draft back to the Assembly explaining why it should be re-considered.

When, following a re-consideration, the draft is once more submitted, the Parliament must adopt it whether it is modified or not.

A treaty or an agreement adopted by the Parliament should be transmitted to the Chairperson of the Commission. The Chairperson shall inform the Assembly, and the treaty of agreement shall be opened to signature and ratification in accordance with the constitutional procedures in force in the Members States.

The ratification or accession instrument shall be deposited with the Chairperson of the Commission who shall then inform Member States.

Early in November a meeting of experts from different governments will gather for the adoption of the final document of the reviewed Protocol before putting it before the Assembly.

The Speakers have passionately called on Speakers of National Parliaments as well as Speakers of Regional Parliaments and Heads of the various governments to help make the African Charter a reality.  According to the the PAP, the only way the African dream can be realized is through the ratification of the Charter and its domestication.

During a presentation on the Ratification of African Union decisions with a focus on the African Charter on Democracy, Hon. Joram Mcdonald Gumbo, Fourth Vice President of the PAP, lauded the leadership of the seven (7) countries who have ratified the Charter. He said the efforts of the leadership of Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Rwanda and Lesotho demonstrates their adherence to democracy, elections and good governance.  

He said even though 15 signatures are required to allow the Charter to take full flight, the vision of PAP is that all the countries in the African Union ratify, so that the blocks for our continental integration can be built.

He observed that “the Charter emphasizes that it is foremost for the states themselves to apply its stated objectives by making efforts to guarantee the conformity of their legislations with the Charter, by translating the Charter’s relevant clauses into domestic law, by ensuring the dissemination of the Charter at national levels and by integrating the objectives and principles stated in the Charter into national policies and strategies”.

A representative from OXFAM called on delegates to impress on their respective countries to ratify the Charter and domesticate it so that issues of gender inequality, right to food, democratic governance, rights of the child and youth as well as the right to good health can be implemented without delay.

Twelve (12) countries from across Africa committed themselves today at the Speakers’ Conference, to ratifying the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. The countries are Nigeria, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Western Sahara, Zimbabwe, Chad, Sudan, Swaziland, Malawi, Namibia, Uganda and South Africa.

Representatives of the Speakers from these countries told the conference that their respective governments are handling the issue with seriousness saying the Charter is a very vital instrument, not only to democracy, but also to development in Africa. Most of the countries indicated that they are already signatories to the said Charter and that they are in the process of rectifying it. They said they are waiting for the copy of the Charter to be sent to parliaments for approval and consultations from all the constituencies.

Moderator of the session, First Vice President of PAP, Hon Bethel Amadi, expressed his gratitude to the countries which have already ratified the Charter and urged those who made their commitments not to relax but to fulfil their pledges.

In his concluding speech, the President of the PAP, Hon Moussa Idriss Ndélé, sincerely congratulated both the Regional and National parliaments for the Conference. He also congratulated South Africa for making Africa proud by successfully hosting this year’s World Cup; hosting PAP Members each year when they come for PAP Sessions, and hosting the PAP Secretariat that is based in Midrand.

However, the PAP President talked about some of the weaknesses and difficulties they are encountering, mainly the poor communication with the legislative institutions of Africa.

The solution to this matter, according to Hon Ndélé, is the organization of forums, meetings and dialogue within the African regions, and the circulation of adequate information to all the African nations. Also, there is need for establishment of focal points for communication.

Finally, the PAP President expressed his gratitude to the AUC and all the other African governing bodies that are consistently supporting PAP so that it can achieve its objectives.



Pan-African Parliament (PAP)


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