Several Opposition Members of Parliament who were forced to walk out of the Independence Flag Raising Ceremony on the evening of May 25, due to what the party claimed was a deliberate attempt to ‘disrespect’ its members, have taken to Facebook to vent their views over the situation.
Former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall said, “they may deny us seats at the Flag Raising Ceremony. They may refuse to recognise but cannot deny the role which Cheddi Jagan and many other leaders of PPP played in the struggle for Independence from 1943-1966. Not only did we play a leading part in that struggle, but the 23 years (out of 50), after independence, that is from 1992-2015, that we governed this country were the best period of our country’s developmental trajectory. It’s too much to recite here but even detractors, if they want to be credible, will agree”.
Member of Parliament Priya Manickchand said, “unfortunately, when we got to the event, happy to be there with feelings of deep patriotic pride, the Govt provided no seats for the Opposition MPs except for five seats given to the Leader of the Opposition, Sam Hinds and three other MPs. While the rest of us were standing there in the passageway for no less than 25 minutes.”
The MP went on to say that, “this shameless and infantile” behaviour was designed to embarrass the Opposition and is unacceptable as it is petty, disrespectful and destructive. “Hey, Executive. You can’t stop us. We are elected office holders. We represent hundreds of thousands of persons. We celebrate Guyana’s Independence,” Manickchand added.
Also venting disappointment was former Housing Minister and now shadow Finance Minister Irfaan Ali: “The talk of unity and coming together was all fluff. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected the Government to stoop to this level of disregard and disrespect for the Opposition. Despite assuring the Opposition that accommodation would be made for Opposition MPs this was not the case. On arrival at the Jubilee Park we were shocked to learn that neither seats nor accommodation was made for us. After standing for almost 30 minutes waiting to be seated whilst numerous persons were seated, the humiliation was enough and as a team we left… The former Presidents and General Secretary left with the MPs in solidarity. This is the unity the President alluded to”.
Meanwhile, former President Donald Ramotar who also attended the flag raising ceremony and was seated said that he also walked out of the proceedings in support of his colleagues when he heard about the incident.
Minister within the Ministry of Education, Nicolette Henry, has since issued a statement today which differs from the claims made by the PPP/C members.
Henry stated that in addition to arriving later than the agreed time, the Opposition used an incorrect entrance. She also stated that after realising what was happening, she assured the Leader of the Opposition that the problem will be addressed soon, but before this could have been done, the PPP/C MPs all walked out of the event.