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Pan-African Parliament (PAP) President Survives Ouster

AN attempt to unconstitutionally dethrone Pan-African Parliament (PAP) president Chief Fortune Charumbira, led by his second vice president Dr Ashebiri Gayo from Ethiopia, fell apart spectacularly after four of the five members of the PAP presidency distanced themselves from the attempted palace coup.

In a letter to chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Dr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chief Charumbira and three of his other vice presidents, Professor Massouda Mohamed Laghdaf (Mauritania), Lúcia Maria Mendes Gonçalves dos Passos (Cape Verde) and Francois Ango Ndoutoume (Gabon) slammed Dr Gayo for attempting to instal himself acting PAP president, in violation of laid- down regulations.
The four, together with Dr Gayo, constitute the Bureau of the Pan-African Parliament, which is essentially the PAP presidium, consisting of the president and four vice presidents.
They all came into office mid-last year in elections held during the ordinary session of the fifth parliament held in Midrand, South Africa.
The bureau is responsible for — among other duties — management and administration of the affairs and facilities of PAP and its organs, regulating procedures relating to the financial, organisational and administrative needs of the body and determining the draft agenda and programmes of the sessions of parliament.
Dr Gayo’s attempt to seize power came to light a fortnight ago, when he stormed PAP offices in Midrand, where he unilaterally declared himself acting president of the continental body. He reportedly
began threatening staff members with dismissal if they failed to comply with his bizarre directives.
The threats included stopping the clerk of parliament, Mrs Lindiwe Khumalo, from issuing an air ticket to Prof Laghdaf — who was due to fly from Mauritania to assume the role of acting president in place of Chief Charumbira — who was on leave.
In the letter to Dr Mahamat, the quartet said, in terms of PAP rules, the acting presidency is assumed on a rotational basis and that it was Prof Laghdaf’s turn to occupy the position.
Earlier, Dr Gayo had written to the clerk of parliament on a forged letterhead, declaring himself acting president and directing her to organise fresh elections of a new PAP president and two other vice presidents.
The PAP Northern Region Caucus, which holds the post of first VP, has since written a letter of protest to Dr Gayo that was copied to the AU Commission, questioning the basis of his assumed power to call for an election of a new first vice president.
In their letter, the bureau members said: “On Wednesday, August 23, 2023, second VP of PAP Dr Gayo, an Ethiopian Member of Parliament representing the Eastern region in the Bureau pitched up at the precincts of PAP in Midrand — Johannesburg — unannounced, declared himself the acting president and began convening a series of meetings with management wherein he issued unlawful directives that violate PAP protocol, rules of procedures and go against the tenets of good corporate governance,” reads the letter.
They said upon arrival at the PAP offices, Dr Gayo attempted to dismiss some senior staff members for refusing to cooperate with him.
He later demanded keys to Chief Charumbira’s office, and took photos of himself while inside “to create an impression that he had taken over”.
He later removed portraits of Chief Charumbira from the building.
They said Dr Gayo — along with some rogue PAP MPs, working in cahoots with a Zambian social media activist, Joseph Kalimbwe — were being sponsored by a known South African businessman to fight the principle of rotation of the PAP presidency.
“The fight is and has always been against the principle of rotation because it takes away the position of President from the Eastern caucus and Hon Gayo for the next six years,” reads the letter.
It was noted that Dr Gayo and his team hatched the coup plot in Ethiopia last month, after a failed attempt to meet the AU Commission chairperson.
The letter says the coup plotters later went to South Africa under the guise of attending the BRICS summit, only to later storm PAP headquarters.
Meanwhile, the Northern Region Caucus of PAP slammed Dr Gayo for proposing a new election to fill the post of first VP, saying he had no mandate to do so.
In the letter, caucus chairperson Mr Azzedine Abdelmadjid, from Algeria, said: “I feel constrained to react to your letter to the clerk of PAP dated August 23, 2023, in which you unilaterally directed her to among other things declare vacant the position of first VP.
“Without mincing words, I wish to place on record that my caucus condemns in the strongest possible terms, your shameless attempts to unprocedurally usurp the power of the Bureau and the Plenary Assembly.
“You issued directives to the secretariat that violated the PAP protocol and the rule of procedure by purporting to set aside decisions taken by the plenary session during the second ordinary session of PAP in May 2023.”
He said the Northern Caucus, consisting of seven countries — Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Sahrawi Arab Republic and Mauritania —was, in terms of the rules, supposed to occupy the position of first VP.
“You are not from any of the above seven countries in the northern region but from Ethiopia in the eastern region.
“This makes you a meddlesome interloper and a busy body,” charged Mr Abdelmadjid.
Chief Charumbira was elected PAP president in May last year after the AU Commission adopted the principle of rotating the presidency as provided for by PAP’s Constitutive Act.
This was after some regions insisted on direct election of the president, riding on their huge numbers, a development that witnessed the southern region failing to assume the post since 2004.

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