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.