African Union Commission Faces Backlash Over Pan-African Parliament Leadership Crisis

The President of the Union of Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union (AU), President Azali Assoumani with Pan-African Parliament President Chief Fortune Charumbira

The President of the Union of Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union (AU), President Azali Assoumani with Pan-African Parliament President Chief Fortune Charumbira

Pan-African Parliament Bureau with AUC Chair H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat. Image from PAP Media

The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) is currently embroiled in a renewed leadership crisis, eliciting significant criticism directed at the African Union Commission (AUC). The tumultuous situation unfolded in August 2023, just ahead of Zimbabwe’s General Election. Senator Chief Fortune Charumbira, who had been elected as the President and Speaker of the continental parliament in June 2022, took a leave of absence to participate in the national elections.

During Charumbira’s absence, Third Vice President Hon. Dr. Ashebir Woldegiorgis Gayo unilaterally declared the seats of Bureau members including the President vacant, regardless of the fact that these members were re-elected to their national parliament parliament and redesigned to the continental parliament. The underlying agenda is to pave the way for a fresh leadership election, despite Bureau members having been elected just a year prior and not having completed their term of office.

The interference of the AUC, ostensibly in support of Dr. Gayo’s maneuvers, has raised concerns about political interference and corruption in Addis Ababa. Some have alleged that lobbying and external influence, possibly from the African Union Commission (AUC), have played a role in orchestrating leadership changes at the African Parliament and beyond.

Proponents including the regional chairpersons say the amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Pan-African Parliament in November 2022, were aimed at rectifying past aberrations, suggest an institutional effort to restore stability and curb divisive leadership practices. These amended rules were suspended by a directive from the AUC Chair H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat in October 2023, claiming that they were in violation of the protocol establishing the African Union.

However, this is not new to the African Union agency as the recurring trend traces back to October 2013, with the controversial and unexpected declaration of vacancies, particularly the removal of Rwandan MP Hon. Juliana Kantangwa, the Fourth Vice President at that time. The proceedings were reportedly marked by rule interpretation disputes and questionable elections, unveiling a disturbing shift in political tactics and ethics within PAP. The events of 2013 set a precedent for subsequent power plays, culminating in the recent 2023 incident where Hon. Dr. Ashebir W. Gayo, seemingly driven by ambition, is orchestrating the removal of the First Vice President Hon. Prof. Massouda of Mauritania, and the President Hon. Sen. Chief Fortune Charumbira of Zimbabwe

As the unfolding events continue to cast a shadow on the integrity of the African Union, calls for intervention from the African Union’s policy organs have intensified, emphasizing the need for the Pan-African Parliament to manage its internal affairs autonomously. The ongoing crisis raises broader concerns about corruption, favoritism, and the erosion of transparency within crucial African Union institutions, ultimately hindering the continent’s progress. Principles of fairness, transparency, and accountability, are crucial for fostering healthy diplomatic relations, public trust and development in the region. The AUC’s involvement in this leadership crisis raises questions about the Union’s commitment to upholding democratic principles within its institutions.



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