Less than 24 hours after he had to abruptly adjourn the National Assembly sitting, Speaker Manzoor Nadir again this morning was forced to suspend today’s session after there was an uproar by Opposition Members of Parliament.
It was reported yesterday that there were was an alleged altercation between Members of Parliament Kwame McCoy and Tabitha Sarabo-Halley. It is alleged that McCoy, who is the Minister of Public Affairs within the Office of the President, physically assaulted the Opposition MP – something which the minister has denied.
During the start of today’s parliamentary sitting, Opposition Chief Whip Christopher Jones requested that Minister McCoy “be removed from the precincts of the National Assembly”.
However, Government Chief Whip Gail Teixeira objected to this, calling it “out of order” since it was not raised at the appropriate time, that is, under the ‘Personal Explanation’ slot.
“If the members want to bring a motion. They can at the appropriate time and appropriate procedures. But this should be totally rejected. The other side cannot ask for the removal of a member. Especially when there is a lot of doubt and questions about what happened yesterday,” Teixeira contended.
She also reminded that it was the Opposition which had announced that there is a police investigation going on into the incident.
Speaker Nadir agreed with the Parliamentary Affairs Minister and outlined that the rules explicitly state the procedure to be adopted. He also informed the Opposition that they are supposed to indicate to him beforehand via the Clerk of the National Assembly that they intend to make a personal explanation.
Nevertheless, he told the Opposition that they can bring a motion to the House on the issue.
However, Jones reinforced that the female MPs are “uncomfortable” with McCoy’s presence in the Assembly and will not proceed with the consideration of estimates unless he is removed.
The Speaker noted that the concerns of the Opposition and as he was about to dissolve the Assembly into the Committee of Supply to resume the consideration of the budget estimates, the Opposition MPs stood up and started to hit their desks loudly.
Speaker Nadir requested twice for them to have a seat so that he can rule but to no avail.
He went onto to rule that, “the Opposition can bring a motion for which I am going to set a time later today to be heard.”
But his ruling was drowned out by the loud uproar in the Assembly, thus forcing him to suspend the sitting.