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From 'union of tyrants' to 'power to the people'? The significance of the Pan-African Parliament for the African Union


  • Klaas van Walraven


This article analyses the significance of the newly established 'Pan-African Parliament'. As one of the few genuinely new institutions of the 'African Union' (AU) - itself the successor of the 'Organisation of African Unity' (OAU) -, the Parliament's birth could provide the institutional transformations that have taken place in continental politics with more concrete meaning. After sketching the historical background to the idea of parliamentary representation in the (O)AU, the article outlines the African Union's formation and how this interconnected with the notion of a parliamentary gathering. It analyses in detail the Parliament's Protocol, the structures and powers with which it was provided, and its formal relations with the other organs of the Union. The article describes how the Parliament was formally launched in March 2004 and then gives an assessment of its possible impacts on the institutions of the AU; on AU policy-making; and on the Union's member states. Its potential role in the review mechanisms of the CSSDCA and NEPAD is also discussed. The article concludes that the Parliament's influence will remain marginal for the foreseeable future.

Suggested Citation

  • Klaas van Walraven, 2004. "From 'union of tyrants' to 'power to the people'? The significance of the Pan-African Parliament for the African Union," Africa Spectrum, Institute of African Affairs, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 39(2), pages 197-221.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:afjour:v:39:y:2004:i:2:p:197-221

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