Opposition rejects Govt’s revenge plots, attempts to muzzle its MPs

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‘…we put the Government on notice that its wrongs cannot be made right by the prosecution of parliamentarians or public servants who are defending the people’s interest, the public purse and good governance’ – Jagdeo’s office

The parliamentary Opposition, the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) has, again, expressed its deepest concern over a continued pattern of behaviour on the part of the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) coalition Government, “which has seen it engaging in all forms of political machinations and activities aimed at undermining the country’s democracy and Constitution”.

The  Opposition said the Government is doing this “by attempting to silence all individuals including Parliamentarians, Constitutional Office Holders and senior public servants who appear to be preventing the coalition from achieving its sinister political agenda”.

“This agenda is particularly focused on achieving political, social and ethnic discrimination against those who appear to be supporters of, and sympathizers with the parliamentary Opposition,” it said in a statement.

Opposition Leader, Dr Bharat Jagdeo
Opposition Leader, Dr Bharat Jagdeo

According to the PPP/C Opposition, there is ample evidence that the Coalition since it assumed office has been “engaged in the practice of politics of oppression, vindictiveness, bullyism, intimidation and fear”.

As such, the parliamentary Opposition said it “wishes to bring the public’s attention to yet another political scheme by the Government to wreak vengeance on PPP/C Parliamentarian Bishop Juan Edghill after he delivered an impassioned debate presentation which saw the Government suffering immense embarrassment in the midst of one of its massive plans to deceive the public and further enrich its members at the expense of the public purse”.

The party alluded to the fact that Bishop Edghill had moved a motion in December 2015 which called on the Government to annul order No. 16 of 2015 which was specifically designed to ensure that its Ministers of Government benefit from enormous salary increases which they had not earned.

“Parliamentarian Edghill had argued that the move to enrich these Ministers would place a significant burden on the public treasury since it would cost taxpayers close to $1B. He had maintained that it was also in bad faith and bad taste considering that the Government had repeatedly stated that they inherited a ‘bankrupt treasury’ and could ill afford to pay public servants, teachers and servicemen significant increases,” the Opposition PPP/C stated.

“The Government, in a classic attempt to avoid the issues being raised by the Opposition parliamentarian, tried to create a distraction by moving a spurious motion to send him to the Privileges Committee of the Parliament as they alleged that he misled the house during the debate of his motion. This took place in May this year,” the PPP stated.

PPP/C MP Juan Edghill
PPP/C MP, Bishop Juan Edghill has been summoned before the Privileges Committee

“We have now learnt that the Clerk of the National Assembly has informed Bishop Edghill via a letter/summons dated November 22, 2016 that he is expected to attend a meeting of the said Committee on November 25, 2016 at 11:00hrs. While Bishop Edghill has been advised to attend the meeting, we are of the view that the Government along with a Speaker who is yet to demonstrate impartiality will ensure that the process is less-than fair,” the Opposition contends.

It noted that Bishop Edghill is not alone as all of his colleagues are in full support of him and join in rebuking the Government’s misuse of the parliamentary rules and procedures as well as its continued disregard for standing parliamentary norms and traditions.

“We also view this decision to summon Bishop Edghill before the Committee at this time is part of a revenge plot by the Government since the Opposition successfully moved a motion to haul the Public Health Minister before the Committee for deliberately and repeatedly misleading the house and lying on his Ministry’s shameful procurement of a bottom-house bond to store pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.”

It said this is reminiscent of the recent threats by Minister David Patterson to accelerate prosecution against PPP/C Members of Parliament and former members of the government “following the Opposition’s refusal to sit in the Parliament Chambers during President David Granger’s address on October 13, 2016 as a protest against his Executive abuse of power.”

The statement from the Office of the Opposition Leader added: “Most importantly, this decision comes just two days after Bishop Edghill moved another significant motion which placed on the Government to come clean on the financing of the controversial multi-million dollar Durban Park Project. His move again caused the Government embarrassment and exposed another plot aimed at deceiving Guyanese about a project shrouded in secrecy. The parliamentary opposition has also noted that there are striking similarities and cases, as of recent, where the Government has taken action against other public figures who appear to be a stumbling block to their vindictive and partisan agenda.”

The statement said the “most recent of these victims of Government’s abuse, vengeance and spite” have been Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Carvil Duncan, who was suspended and illegally hauled before a tribunal. And just yesterday, Secretary to the said Commission, Jai Singh, was transferred to the post of Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communities where no such vacancy exist.

“We stand in solidarity with Bishop Edghill and we put the Government on notice that its wrongs cannot be made right by the prosecution of parliamentarians or public servants who are defending the people’s interest, the public purse and good governance,” the statement from the Office of the Opposition Leader concluded.

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