APNU/AFC refuses to accept Privileges Committee recommendation for suspension of 8 MPs

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See below for full statement from APNU/AFC on the recommendation to suspend 8 Opposition MPs for alleged parliamentary misconduct: 

On March 1st, 2022, Opposition Members of Parliament Christopher Jones (Opposition Chief Whip), Ganesh Mahipaul, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, Sherod Duncan, Vinceroy Jordan, Natasha Singh-Lewis, Annette Ferguson and Maureen Philadelphia received letters from the Clerk of the Committee of Privileges captioned “Re: Referral to the Committee of Privileges for gross disorderly conduct, contempt, and breaches of privileges in the Assembly” requesting that they “show cause”, in writing, to the Clerk of the National Assembly by Monday, 7th March 2022, why the Committee of Privileges should not recommend to the National Assembly that sanctions be meted out to them for alleged gross disorderly conduct, contempt, and breaches of privileges.

All eight Members of Parliament responded between the 4th and 7th March, 2022, requesting further information from the Clerk of the National Assembly on the allegations, since the motion which referred them to the Committee of Privileges for gross disorderly conduct, contempt, and breaches of privileges NEVER specified which of their acts so qualified.

To this date, July 16th, 2022, none of the eight Members of Parliament has received a response from the Clerk of the National Assembly, the Clerk of the Committee of Privileges, or the Speaker of the National Assembly. The Opposition MPs are now however in receipt of a report from the Committee of Privileges which has ascribed to them several false and trumped-up acts intended to impugn their good character. The report recommends suspension for all MPs.

The APNU+AFC rejects this recommendation as we consider it to be:

  1. a)Unconstitutional because our constitution—the supreme law of our land— enshrines the right of all citizens to natural justice; that is, the right of every Guyanese, regardless of the charges, to be given an opportunity to be heard by a competent, independent, and impartial court or any other tribunal prescribed by law.
  2. b)Unparliamentary because the records of Parliament show that all Members of Parliament in the past who were referred to the Committee of Privileges were always afforded the opportunity to be represented by legal counsels of their choice and were all given the opportunity to be heard.
  3. c)An act of political discrimination and suppression, aimed at deterring and intimidating Opposition MPs from fully scrutinizing and criticizing the actions of the government on behalf of the Guyanese people.

It is our firm conviction that this is yet another attempt by the PPP regime to continue breaking down the guardrails of our democracy. But our lawmakers will not sit back and allow such an unconstitutional act to go unchallenged. We wish to assure our supporters, friends, and all Guyanese that this illegal act to suspend eight Members of Parliament without due process will be challenged. We also thank the thousands of Guyanese who called and sent messages of support. We will continue to fight for our Guyana and we know the people of Guyana are standing strong with us.

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