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December 8, 2003


Alpha Oumar Konaré, Chair of the African Union Commission, confirmed that the Pan African Parliament has received sufficient ratifications and will therefore enter into force in 30 days (on 14 December 2003). Although the permanent seat of the Pan African Parliament will be in Addis Ababa, the administrative capital city of the African Union, the constituent republic of South Africa has offered to host the first session of the parliament.

African Union Commission Headquarters, Addis Ababa

Thabo Mbeki, president of the African Union's constituent republic of South Africa said on November 26, 2003, "the Parliament will therefore enable the peoples of Africa, acting through their elected representatives, to make a major contribution in terms of the Union's objective to promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance."

"I am pleased to note," Mbeki said, "that this parliament (of South Africa) will vote today in both this house and the NCOP to elect South Africa's first Pan African Parliamentarians, who will attend the first session of the Parliament scheduled for January next year (2004)."

The ratification became effective after a quick succession of ratifications by the AU's constituent republics of Egypt, Senegal, Zambia and Angola.

The press releases circulated by the AU Commission stated that the ratification became effective when Senegal's permanent representative to the commission deposited his state's instrument of ratification on November 14, 2003. However, Senegal was the 24th republic to ratify the protocol establishing the Pan African Parliament. A simple majority of AU member states is 27, not 24 (there are 53 states, excluding Morocco that abstained in protest over inclusion of the Sahrawi Republic, and Northern Somalia - Puntland - and other secessionist regions across Africa, which the AU Assembly has declined to recognize).

Angola, which was the 26th state to deposit its instrument of ratification, did so on 28 November 2003. According to the AU Commission the protocol will come into force on December 14, 2003. The correct date for entry into force should fall on, or after, 28 December, 2003. The confusion may stem from a popular misconception that there are only 48 states in Africa.

This misconception is a result of excluding island states from the count. The correct, current and full number of states in Africa is 54. It seems that someone at the Commission in Addis Ababa (whoever is in charge of preparing the press kit) is using a map of Africa that lacks offshore features, or perhaps even some of the smaller states of continental Africa.

In any event Oumar Konare and Patrick Mazimhaka, as well as other members of the Commission, are to be congratulated for their efforts in pressing for the early ratification of the protocol establishing the Pan-African Parliament.