Africa’s continental parliament suspends sessions after chaos

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The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) in Johannesburg, South Africa has announced the suspension of its 4th ordinary secession after days of scuffles between some lawmakers over the election of new office bearers. 

“The suspension follows disagreements and disruptions that transpired during the procession of the plenary on 31 May and 01 June 2021 as the PAP was looking to elect the president and vice presidents of its bureau,” Parliament clerk Vipya Harawa said in a statement late Tuesday.

African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat wrote a letter to the parliament Tuesday saying what was happening at the continental body was sending a negative image about the institution as the African Union.

According to the letter, Mahamat, urged the interim speaker of the PAP to suspend sessions for one month to create a conducive situation for free, peaceful and fair elections.

On Monday, members of the parliament from the South and North African regions had suggested that the parliament’s new president be chosen on a rotational basis since all other regions on the continent have had a president except them.

The chief whip of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, Pemmy Majodina, was attacked and kicked by Senegalese parliamentarian Djibril War on Monday while scuffling with other lawmakers.

Video footage circulating online showed some members of parliament grabbing the ballot box.

On Tuesday South African opposition politician Julius Malema, also a member of the PAP, disrupted the house, demanding that chair Jaynet Kabila open the floor to debate following his point of order.

When Kabila said there would not be a debate, Malema moved from the floor to the podium with several other male lawmakers to confront Kabila.

This created confusion and chaos as those in support of Kabila surrounded her to guard her, leading to fresh chaos.

Parliament clerk Harawa said he regretted the interruptions that occurred during the ongoing 4th ordinary session of the fifth parliament which had affected the continuity of parliament’s business.

The continental body was due to hold elections last Thursday but postponed them after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

Outgoing PAP President Roger Nkodo Dang, who has served for two terms, is from Cameroon, while his predecessor, the late Bethel Nnaemeka Amadi, was a Nigerian legislator.

The PAP was established in 2004 as a legislative organ of the African Union, with the aim of ensuring full participation of the peoples of Africa and their grassroots organizations in governance and economic integration.

Each African Union member contributes five members of parliament to the continental parliament, which holds two plenary sessions in May and October. Anadolu Agency