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Ahead of today’s Sitting of the National Assembly, the Opposition filed a Motion for 22 Government Members of Parliament be sent to the Committee of Privileges over their un-parliamentary conduct.
The Motion was submitted to Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs, on Sunday, by Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon and seconded by the Opposition’s Chief Whip, Christopher Jones.
Harmon, in the whereas clauses, recalled that during the last Sitting of the National Assembly, the Members of the Opposition and Government ended up in a physical, loud and aggressive “face off” in the well of the Assembly.
However, he said it was the Government MPs who had become abusive.
“… Members of the Government side engaged in and used abusive and threatening language and behaviour towards Members of the Opposition and that this conduct and behaviour was un-parliamentary to say the least and violative of the privileges accorded to a member of this National Assembly,” the Opposition Leader wrote in another whereas clause.
He is of the opinion that the conduct of the Government MPs brought the National Assembly into disrepute and invited public odium into the affairs of the Assembly.
Given their conduct, Harmon said the Government MPs – Gail Teixeira, Mark Phillips, Anil Nandlall, Nigel Dharamlall, Kwame McKoy, Anand Persaud, Susan Rodrigues, Jennifer Westford, Mustapha Zulifkar, Sanjeev Datadin, Robeson Benn, Hugh Todd, Faizal Jafarally, Juan Edghill, Sheila Veerasammy, Vickram Bharrat, Joseph Hamilton, Alister Charlie, Charles Ramson, Deodat Indra, Colin Croal and Vindhya Persaud – be referred to the Committee of Privileges.
The Opposition has also filed a Motion of No-Confidence against the Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir.
In a separate statement, the Opposition Leader justified the actions of the Opposition MPs during the last Sitting of the National Assembly on December 29, 2021.
“The Members of the Parliamentary Opposition from the APNU+AFC determined on December 29th, 2021 that they were the last line of defense against an authoritarian regime who were salivating about the idea of having complete control of the revenue from our oil resources that is the patrimony of all Guyanese,” Harmon said.
According to him, the Opposition MPs came to that conclusion after witnessing the decision of the Speaker not to allow a petition by Guyanese Citizens requesting that the consideration of the Natural Resource Fund Bill be paused to allow for greater consultation. He said Article 13, the Georgetown Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc., and the African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA) had also underscored the need for greater consultation on the legislation, which was been proposed at the time.
The Opposition had also asked that the Bill be sent to a Special Select Committee to ensure wide consultation on the repealing of the Natural Resource Fund Act of 2019 but this too was rejected.
“The Peoples representatives in the opposition were determined to defend the patrimony of the Guyanese people. However, anyone who was in the National Assembly on the night of December 29th, 2021 or looking on via the livestream could determine that the Speaker was not in control of the Assembly as most Members of Parliament both Government and Opposition were not in their seats during the debate,” Harmon said.
The Opposition is maintaining that the Natural Resource Fund Bill, no. 20 0f 2021 was not successfully passed given the circumstances it was debated and purportedly passed.
“… we maintain that the mace which was used in place of the original one, was a replica. We also maintain that at the time of members casting their votes, many members on the Government side were not in their seats. They were standing! Hon. Mark Phillips, the country’s Prime Minister and head of government’s business was not seated when the voting took place, video evidence shows him pumping his fist way above his head at this said time,” the Opposition Leader explained.
He said the actions by many of the Government MPs as caught on camera on December 29 would require any impartial Speaker to discipline them.
The Government’s Chief Whip Gail Teixeira has signaled Government’s intention to sanction the Opposition MPs but this Harmon said is a clear indication that the Speaker is not in control of the House.
“We must also mention that any decision to sanction Members of the Opposition at this time must be seen for what it truly is, a way to stifle the voices of the people debating and questioning the 2022 Budget,” he said.