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…says attack on Mace is an attack on authority of Parliament
Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir, in condemning the Opposition Members of Parliament for disrupting Wednesday’s sitting, warned that the MPs who “violently” removed the Mace in an attempt to block the passage of the Natural Resources Fund Bill, will be penalised.
“In every Parliament, an attack on the Mace, is an attack on the authority of Parliament, and that attack on the Mace cannot, cannot go unpunished,” the Speaker warned during a press conference at Public Buildings on Thursday.
During Wednesday’s chaotic sitting of the National Assembly, the Mace was uprooted from in front of the Speaker by an APNU+AFC MP as Members of the Opposition protested a decision to proceed with the second reading of the Natural Resources Fund Bill, and its passage.
Nadir said the Sergeant-at-Arms is the only person authorized to remove the Mace, and as such, those who “violently” removed it, will face the consequence of their action.
“We cannot allow the attack on the Mace to go without repercussion,” he iterated. However, when asked what those penalties would be, the Speaker declined to disclose.
“The Standing Orders are very, very clear with respect to the process of enforcing penalties against Members of Parliament for gross misconduct in Parliament, and we have the history of one person touching the Mace, who was suspended from speaking. So there are a number of remedies that we could consider. At this stage, I am not prepared to say which particular one or which combination of remedies we can implement,” he said in response to a question posed.
Following what could be described as a wrestle between a number of Opposition MPs and staff of the Parliament Office for the Mace, it was eventually secured by Ian McPherson, a parliamentary officer outside of the chamber.
“In spite of the taunts he received, the racial slurs that were leveled at him, he upheld the dignity, the sovereignty of our country,” the Speaker said as he applauded McPherson for his bravery.
He said going forward, the National Assembly should not behave in such an uncivilized manner. “If this country is going to grow and blossom into its full potential, understanding civility and playing by the rules must be the order of the day,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a statement, the Georgetown Chambers of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) condemned the Opposition Members of Parliament.
“…it is with utter shock and dismay that members of the GCCI witnessed a devolution of the Parliamentary proceedings into what can best be described as hooliganism. The cacophony only subsided when an attempt to remove the Speaker’s ceremonial mace by a Member of Parliament was made – an intolerable action under any circumstance,” the GCCI said.
He said the behavior displayed by the Opposition MPs has no place in a modern society. Additionally, it condemned the racist remarks which were hurled by a MP to McPherson during his attempt to safeguard the mace.
“The Chamber of Commerce wishes to remind Parliamentarians, particularly those who wish to engage in recalcitrant and unbecoming hebaviour, that they are representatives of the people of the Republic of Guyana at a time when the country has international attention. Such reprehensible behavior has the ability to further damage the credibility of our country as a stable society and environment for doing business,” GCCI said.
It said the Speaker must ensure that those responsible for the breakdown of order are dealt with condignly.