By Novell Zwange – JOHANNESBURG – The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) yesterday unanimously adopted a motion calling on the AU to allow it to undertake its own independent election observation missions. According to a decision of the Executive Council of the AU, adopted on 1st February this year in Addis Ababa, PAP is to be part of joint election observation missions with other AU organ under a centralized budget managed by the Department of Political Affairs of the AU Commission. The motion called on the AU to rescind its decision which stopped the PAP from fielding its own missions.
Moving the motion, Member of Parliament from Ghana, Hon. Ambrose Dery said that “PAP must be given a chance to do its own independent election observation missions other than being controlled by AU Commission”. He added that the PAP Members of those joint missions are not heard and do not take part in the compilation process of the reports during or after the missions.
Seconding him, South African Member of Parliament Hon. Fatima Haijag said that the AU Commission is appointed, while PAP Members are elected by the people, which make the experiences of the two different when it comes to elections. “We Members have experience because we go through elections and we know how it feels to go through an election. What’s the point of PAP being there, and at the end it does not take part in compiling the report,” wondered Haijag.
During the debate on the motion, Members shared their experiences during different joint missions describing the arrangement as unworkable. Some MPs argued that the decision by AU on joint missions was meant to suffocate PAP and suggested that they stop going for the missions with immediate effect, saying if they continue to go, AUC will not stop mistreating them. Last week PAP Members expressed their concern over the way they had been treated during the joint missions saying they were not given a chance to contribute.
According to the President of the PAP, Hon. Dr. Moussa Idriss Ndélé, the motion will be taken forward to the Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the AU.
The House was also informed about the Women’s Conference which was held on 8th and 9th of this month at the PAP by the President of the PAP Women’s Caucus, Hon. Mavis Matladi. During the conference, issues such as the human rights situation in the occupied territories of
Western Sahara, female genital mutilation, maternal and child mortality in Africa and gender responsive budgeting were raised and debated.
Hon. Matladi told the House that the conference has recommended that the Pan- African Parliament encourages all the organs of the African Union, United Nations Security Council as well as the international community to endorse the monitoring of human rights in Western Sahara as mandated by MINURSO. It also recommended that PAP should, among others, send a fact-finding mission to Western Sahara to investigate the human rights violations against women and children, put pressure on the Moroccan authorities to ensure that they engage the POLISARIO Front with the aim of holding a referendum for the people of Western Sahara, and call on the Moroccan authorities to unconditionally release all the Saharawi political prisoners and provide the details about the whereabouts of prisoners who disappeared in the last 35 years.
At the end of the debate on the report, the President of the PAP, Hon. Dr. Moussa Idriss Ndélé indicated that the House has taken note of the report and resolutions of the Women’s Conference organized by the PAP Women’s Caucus, and that the issues raised would be taken on-board during the upcoming Sessions.