…PPP/C insists no seats were reserved for Opposition MPs
The Opposition People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) in a statement this afternoon, lashed back at the APNU/AFC Administration for what the party referred to as “a poor attempt to extricate the Government for the disrespectful treatment” shown to the Parliamentary Opposition at Wednesday’s Flag Raising Ceremony.
The PPP/C is insisting that Minister Nicolette Henry’s statement, which she issued today, lacks any appreciation that there was a breach of protocol in the seating of the Opposition MPs in the VIP section, and that this was “humiliating and disrespectful”.
The PPP/C added that the minister reneged on her public assurances on May 24 given to the Leader of the Opposition and PPP/C MPs that seats were reserved accordingly.
On Wednesday, after accepting Government’s invitation to attend the historic flag raising ceremony to usher in Guyana’s 50th Independence, at D’urban Park on Homestretch Avenue, the Opposition PPP/C, left about 45 minutes after arriving.
The Opposition said it was assured that seating accommodations would be available for the 32 People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) Members of Parliament (MPs) and their spouses. However, this was not the case when they arrived. They were seen waiting for a lengthy period to even enter the VIP stand, where the MPs and other VIP guests were supposed to be seated.
The PPP/C MPs claimed that as they waited to be seated, scores of other persons, some casually dressed – some in short pants and t-shirts – at a formal event, were seen being seated in the VIP area. The PPP/C MPs, along with Opposition Leader then left the venue.
However, Minister Henry, in her press release today provided a different account of what transpired.
Henry stated that in addition to arriving later than the agreed time, the Opposition used an incorrect entrance. She also stated that after realising that Opposition MPs were waiting to be seated, she assured the Leader of the Opposition that the problem will be addressed soon, but before the matter could have been sorted out, the PPP/C MPs all walked out.
Following is the full statement issued by the PPP/C:
The PPP/C Parliamentary Opposition has noted with some amusement the press release issued by Minister Henry this morning, May 27th, 2016. Clearly the statement is a poor effort to extricate the government for the disrespectful treatment of the parliamentary opposition at the 50th Independence Anniversary Flag raising ceremony.
The Parliamentary Opposition stands unequivocally and firmly behind its official release issued at midnight on May 25th, 2016.
The Minister clearly seems to have difficulty comprehending the issue at hand. The Minister gave all assurances on May 24th to the Leader of the Opposition and a large group of PPP/C MPs and again on May 25th with the Chief Whip that seats for all PPP/C MPs and their spouses were reserved for the flag raising in the VIP section and that “we should not worry everything was taken care of”.
The Minister was advised that the PPP/C MPs were coming as one in a bus to reduce any problems. The invitation stated that everyone should be seated at 9:45 p.m.
Despite difficulties getting into that section of the park the delegation arrived at 9:45 p.m. In the VIP section.
The Minister’s statement refers to irrelevancies with regards to which entrance, time, etc..
On arrival the VIP section was full. No seats were reserved for the parliamentary opposition nor did it appear that there was any such reservations for any other VIP dignitaries.
The former Presidents were to be seated in the VVIP and this was done. So too were MPs Anil Nandlall, Bishop Edghill and Clement Rohee.
Minister Henry’s statement lacks any appreciation that there was a breach of protocol in the seating of the opposition MPs in the VIP section, and that this was humiliating and disrespectful and further that she reneged on her public assurances on May 24 given to the Leader of the Opposition and PPP/C MPs that our seats were reserved.
However. Minister has to be reminded about her press conference on May 24th where she said the VIP would be on “a first come first served business”. When asked, she said the press had it wrong. The media has said that their recordings show otherwise. Maybe the Minister was being prophetic in that she knew that more invitations were distributed than seats were available yet she took no precautions to ensure her assurances were upheld.
Unfortunately an unequivocal apology by the government was in order. Sadly this statement missed the mark.