Teixeira, Ramjattan added to Privileges Committee to determine sanctions against Opposition MPs

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Gail Teixeira and Khemraj Ramjattan

Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Minister Gail Teixeira and Opposition Member of Parliament Khemraj Ramjattan have been added as members of the Privileges Committee which will be determining the sanctions, if necessary, which will be applied to eight Opposition parliamentarians who reportedly misbehaved in the National Assembly on December 29, 2021.

Teixeira on Monday moved a motion to have eight members – APNU+AFC’s Chief Whip Christopher Jones, and other members, Annette Ferguson, Ganesh Mahipaul, Sherod Duncan, Natasha Singh-Lewis, Vinceroy Jordan, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, and Maureen Philadelphia – sent to the Committee which is akin to a court.

On December 29, APNU/AFC members protested the hearing of the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Bill, which they wanted to be sent to parliamentary Special Select Committee for review. Coalition MPs stood banging on their desks when the Bill was called up for debate and subsequently gathered in the pit of the dome of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), where National Assembly sittings are being held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bill was eventually passed late into the evening but not before the Opposition’s protest escalated into a physical confrontation with Parliament staff after one of the parliamentarians snatched the Parliament Mace from in front of the Speaker, Manzoor Nadir.

In the process, the symbolic mace was damaged. Some Opposition MPs also went into the control room of the ACCC where they ripped out connections for internet and microphones, causing the live feed and virtual connections to be disrupted.

Moreover, Opposition parliamentarians have been accused of assaulting, both physically and verbally including the use of racial epithets, the Personal Assistant to the Speaker who was trying to protect the Mace.

The Mace is the most integral part of the National Assembly’s business and if it is not in the House, no business can be conducted.

During the sitting on Monday, Teixeira also asked for the matter to be resolved within a month’s time.

According to the Parliament of Guyana website, “any matter which appears to affect the powers and privileges of the Assembly is referred to [the Privileges] Committee whose duty is to consider any such matter and to report thereon to the Assembly.”

During an interview with this publication today, Teixeira explained that herself and Ramjattan are the newest members of the Committee.

In addition to them, the Committee comprises Prime Minister Mark Phillips, Attorney General Anil Nandlall, Youth Minister Charles Ramson, Attorney Sanjeev Datadin, former Education Minister Nicolette Henry, and former Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson.

The House Speaker is the Chairman of the Committee who will convene the first meeting. Teixeira hopes that happens “as soon as possible”.