Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira has dismissed concerns expressed by the APNU/AFC Coalition over the election of former Toshao Lenox Shuman as the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.
AFC’s Cathy Hughes has contended that the PPP/C Government broke a long-standing tradition when it proposed Shuman to take up the post as Deputy Speaker.
Hughes contended that the post of Deputy Speaker traditionally goes to the Parliamentary Opposition. She believes the post should be occupied by the main Parliamentary Opposition.
The APNU/AFC had nominated Raphael Trotman for the post of Deputy Speaker, but he was outvoted by 34-31, in favour of Shuman.
Responding to Hughes, Teixeira pointed out that it was the APNU/AFC that, in fact, had broken the tradition in 2011.
“We proposed, as the governing party, Mr Ralph Ramkarran to be Speaker, they [APNU/AFC] defeated that motion and proposed instead Mr Raphael Trotman as Speaker; and when it came to Deputy Speaker, they proposed Deborah Backer…it was the first time in the Parliament [that] the Opposition or Government had a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker,” Teixeira reminded.
As such, she contended that “I am not accepting Mrs Hughes or anybody from APNU feeling of righteousness on this issue. They are the ones that broke the tradition in the 2011 elections. And we have not broken the tradition, we have upheld it; the government having the nominee (as Speaker) and also proposing the nominee (as Deputy Speaker) from the Opposition.”
“So we are compliant with the tradition that the Opposition holds the Deputy Speaker and the Government holds the Speaker,” Teixeira explained, noting that Shuman is an Opposition Member of Parliament.
Shuman is the Leader of the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), which, through its joinder with the A New and United Guyana (ANUG) and The New Movement (TNM) won a seat in the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, Shuman also took time out to respond to Hughes, who also raised concerns about him serving as Deputy Speaker as well as a ministerial advisor on civil aviation.
“Advising the Minister of Public Works on aviation, that is a very technical advise I offer, I don’t go out there and offer political advise on aviation.”
Moreover, he explained that “the Deputy Speaker is an apolitical position…when you’re there, you are guided by rules of the House…so there is no political interference there. I don’t go to represent a political agenda as the Deputy…and the roles of the Deputy Speaker are very restricted…”
Additionally, Shuman explained that as a serving Member of the National Assembly, he will be representing the interests of his party and those in the joinder agreement as well as their constituents. He made it clear that whenever he votes on a matter, it will be after consultation with the members of LJP, ANUG, and TNM.
Shuman also posited that he fully intends on working with all political parties to ensure the country moves forward.
Shuman was also recently appointed ministerial adviser on civil aviation, being a licensed pilot with a wealth of aviation experience.
He also served as Toshao of Pakuri (St Cuthbert’s Mission) from 2015 to 2018 and Vice Chairman of the National Toshao Council.
His election to the post of Deputy Speaker is seen as a significant move, especially since it coincides with the beginning of Indigenous Heritage Month.