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The Pan African Parliament

The Pan-African Parliament is one of the organs of the African Union as envisaged in Article 5(1) (c) of the Constitutive Act. The Pan-African Parliament was formally inaugurated in 2004. The notion of having it was, however, first outlined in the 1991 Abuja Treaty Establishing African Economic Community. The Treaty envisaged the Pan African Parliament as one of its organs and left the details for a protocol relating thereto which was signed in 2002.

The Pan-African Parliament was meant to provide a vehicle through which African citizens can contribute towards deliberating and providing advice on how to deepen democratic governance and promote development. Article 2 of the protocol in relation to the Pan African Parliament provides the following:                                              

Article 2

Establishment of the Pan-African Parliament

  1. Member states hereby establish a Pan-African Parliament the composition, functions, powers and organization of which shall be governed by the present protocol.
  2. The Pan-African parliamentarians shall represent all the peoples of Africa.
  3. The ultimate aim of the Pan-African Parliament shall be to evolve into an institution with full legislative powers, whose members are elected by universal adult suffrage. However, until such time as the member sates decide otherwise by an amendment to this protocol:
    1. The Pan-African Parliament shall have consultative and advisory powers only; and
    1. The members of the Pan-African Parliament shall be appointed as provided for in Article 4 of this protocol.

As stated above, the Pan-African Parliament has not yet assumed full legislative powers. The parliament is expected to become more effective after 2010 when it was expected to become an elected body and assumed full legislative powers.

The Pan-African Parliament is mandated to exercise oversight on issues of governance and development on the continent. It can discuss or express an opinion on any matter, either on its own initiative or at the request of the African Union Assembly. It can also make recommendations on how to achieve the objectives of the African Union and strives to contribute to the coordination and harmonization of policies, programs and activities of the Regional Economic Communities and African’s national parliaments.

As regards to its composition, the Pan-African Parliament shall be composed of parliamentarians of member states. Each member state shall be represented in the Pan- African Parliament by five members, of whom, at least, one must be a woman. As the protocol stands now, the Pan-African parliamentarians shall be elected or designated by the respective National Parliaments or any other deliberative organs of the member states from among their members. The term of office of an individual parliamentarian depends on his/her term of office in the national parliament or other deliberative organ to which he/she is a member.

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