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…Speaker denies instructing police to lock out opposition MPs from parliament
Speaker of the National Assembly Manzoor Nadir has denied instructing the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to shut in or lock out Members of Paiament for the APNU+AFC during Thursday’s sitting of the National Assembly and the President’s inaugural address to Parliament.
His dismissal of these claims came on the heels of a letter, sent to him by Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon in which Harmon claimed that the police were “acting upon your [Nadir’s] instructions” to prohibit the movement of Opposition MPs and that several APNU+AFC MPs were threatened and assaulted by the GPF.
That same day, some Opposition Members who made it outside the compound were able to take part in a protest against the President’s presence to address Parliament.
“It is disappointing that since your assumption of the office of Speaker acceptable dissent continues to be suppressed. The events which unfolded today constitute a new low in the annals of our Parliamentary history whereby elected Members of the National Assembly were assaulted on Parliament grounds and their freedom of movement restricted,” Harmon stated in the letter.
“Mr. Speaker it is fair to conclude that under your tenure as Speaker that the constitutionally guaranteed rights and privileges of Members of the National Assembly will not be respected.” He called on the Speaker to offer an apology for his alleged actions.
However, in response to Harmon’s letter on Friday, the Speaker denied that he had anything to do with the actions of the GPF. Furthermore, he said that Harmon, as an attorney-at-law, ought to have known better than to make such “serious allegations against the Speaker of the House “based on mere hearsay”.
He said that he received the letter late Thursday evening wherein the Opposition Leader made a number of “serious allegations” regarding the treatment of Opposition Members of Parliament.
“I am disheartened, disappointed, but not distressed…it follows that to charge such irresponsible and damning allegations hurled at the chair of the Speaker of the National Assembly is highly condemnable. It ought to be within his basic knowledge that not only is the assertions based on hearsay but also that the Speaker of the National Assembly has no jurisdiction over the operation of the Guyana Police Force,” Nadir stated.
He went on to note that the said Sitting began with the APNU+AFC Members in the House but they subsequently left before the presentation of the Law Reform Commission (Amendment) Bill 2020.
He said that the MPs were also seen taking part in the “fair in the MPs lounge” and loudly ‘greeting’ the President when he arrived.
“What happened outside the compound of this Parliament remains a matter for inquiry and the police,” Nadir concluded.
Meanwhile, Harmon said that he intends to bring what occurred on Thursday to the attention of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Parlamericas, Amnesty International, the United Nations (UN), CARICOM and Guyana’s international partners along with other international parliamentary bodies.