…Jagdeo says Speaker should be held accountable
Chaos erupted in Guyana’s National Assembly today (Monday) as Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Members of Parliament were accosted by officers of the Guyana Police Force.
The sordid affair emanated from a request by Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Barton Scotland for PPP/C MP Bishop Juan Edghill to task his seat after the allotted time given for scrutiny of the budget estimates for the Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP) had expired.
Egdhill, whose scrutiny of MOTP’s estimates were not completed, asked for more time to be given, since according to him four more agencies were added to the MOTP but the time given was the same as last year’s budget.
Egdhill’s refusal to desist from his line of questioning saw the Speaker suspending the session until his orders were followed.
The Sergeant at Arms was instructed to assist Bishop Edghill in leaving but by then Opposition MP’s had gathered around Edghill who refused to vacate his seat.
The National Assembly then descended into chaos as officers were summoned.
Many of the Opposition Parliamentarians said that they were physically assaulted by the officers as the situation got more intense and chaotic.
In tears, Opposition Parliamentarian Priya Manickchand revealed to the media that Police Officers in their attempt to remove her colleague assaulted her.
She said “Police are supposed to protect us…not… punching me in my chest and in my belly, and it should not include pushing us into chairs and tables, in an attempt to do that the same police who were unable to determine who the Santa was along the long meters of this corridor or who can’t yet hold the Santa or the Minister in this House.”
“Police have been protecting and serving us and we are proud of them…you had yours cameras on and you saw the ones that pushed our faces into the table and hit us…this is male police sent in here to deal with us…and handle the women, you know when police are dealing with women it is women police who are dealing with women not male police officers sent in here to deal with women” Manickchand detailed.
She indicated that Government is unhappy with the line of questioning advanced by Edghill hence their resort to gag him.
Edghill called the incident “a complete violation of the Constitution” as “no Member of Parliament could be arrested in the Assembly”.
He further condemned the actions of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) who according to him were carrying out “Political instructions”.
“I could have never believed that a professional Guyana Police Force in a matter of minutes would slide from their professionalism in the view of the people’s house to come to this Parliament to carry out a political instruction, it is unbelievable!” Edghill criticised.
The MP further commended the courage of the women of the PPP/C who stood in solidarity to resist “this illegality that was about to take place in the house today”.
Leader of the Opposition, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo called for the Speaker of the National Assembly to be held personally accountable and further posited that the incident was designed to draw attention from the US $20 million given to the coalition Government that cannot be accounted for.
“We have to hold these people personally responsible. We need to call for the Speaker to be held personally responsible for the incident. This is not going to go down easily, this is unprecedented and I think that it is designed to distract attention from the US $20 million that they are trying to steal. This is all carefully worked out, I have seen a number of breaches from the other side that he has refused to act on and on this issue, suddenly the Police is called in, so we will ensure that he deals with this personally” Jadgeo said.
However, Natural Resources Minster, Raphael Trotman met with the Opposition and requested that Edghill leave in order for a discussion to be had to determine what will be done regarding the incident.
MP Gail Teixeira loudly refused to comply with the request noting that the Speaker himself has to demand that the Police be removed and only then will the Opposition meet for a discussion.
The Opposition Leader is currently meeting with Speaker of the National Assembly over the chaos that ensued within the Parliamentary Chamber this morning.