The National Assembly last evening debated a motion which sought compensation for victims of alleged election day violence in 2015. The motion entitled 2015 Election Day Violence: Compensation for Victims was presented to the House by opposition member Joseph Hamilton.
After intense deliberations which went into the early hours of this morning, the motion was thrown out following its failure to garner the support of the government. Twenty eight (28) members voted in favour while 33 members voted against.
Taking the lead in the debate as to why the government cannot and did not support the motion, Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix, explained that the motion suggested that violence just erupted in a peaceful community.
“I can’t support this motion. In effect, violence is to be abhorred. People were injured and we should sympathise with them, we should comfort them but when you administer the State where you cannot protect your citizens and you allow their properties to be destroyed by their negligence you should not come to this House and ask for compensation. We cannot reward you for negligence,” Minister Felix stated.
Rising to add to the debate, Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson explained that, in his opinion with regard the motion, there is no innocent party; however, he questioned the timing of the motion pointing out that it’s almost nine months after the event.
The Minister is of the view that such a motion should not have been put to the House, especially since it is the year of the country’s 50th independence anniversary, “a time when we are trying to bring the nation together.”
Dozens of persons suffered tremendously as a result of the many instances of violence that was perpetrated on Election Day 2015. Some Guyanese were badly beaten and attacked by angry mobs, and families lost thousands of dollars as a direct result of the unrest that occurred in several communities.
One notable instance of Election Day violence was the situation in Sophia, Greater Georgetown. The community was transformed into a scene of unrest by an angry mob. In the midst of burning tyres and buildings, and angry cries, some residents were injured. Others had to endure the excruciating pain of watching their hard-earned belongings go up in flames as a result of a fire deliberately started by a group of Sophia residents.
At some other polling stations across the country, other persons were victims of the violence administered by residents who believed there was a threat to the integrity of the ballot boxes.
In other areas, persons were hauled out of their vehicles and received several blows about their bodies for merely making an appearance in certain villages. Former Information Liaison to the President, Kwame McCoy was attacked so badly that he had to be hospitalised. McCoy was confronted by an angry mob as he was about to exit the polling station at St Sidwell Primary School at Hadfield Street and Vlissengen Road, Georgetown.