By Gary Eleazar
The National Assembly yesterday reconvened and members continued trading barbs across the aisle in the ‘Hallowed Chambers,’ sometimes descending into downright ‘bitter’ exchanges causing Speaker Raphael Trotman to intervene on a number of occasions.
By the scheduled end of the night’s exhaustive debate, the time had expired for the session with several speakers still to make a presentation.
Prime Minister then moved a motion for the debate to continue to its logical conclusion and that the House remains in session until the end of the debate. Up to press time the debate was still raging.
Rohee walked into the Chambers midway into the debate at 18:00 hrs by which time the Government had lined up a dozen speakers inclusive of Ministers Ganga Persaud, Robert Persaud, Neil Kumar and former PNCR Executive Member of PNC Joe Hamilton among others.
Among the Opposition Speakers to the motion yesterday were AFC’s Moses Nagamootoo and former Commissioner of Police Winston Felix. The motion is rooted that the shooting death of three Lindeners on July 18, last. The three were shot dead during a protest against the electricity hike.
Human Services Minister Jennifer Webster said that she stands by the Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee as well as the initiative by Head of State Donald Ramotar to hold a Commission of Inquiry.
Another Government Speaker, Ganga Persaud, in his presentation attracted the ire of the opposition as he sought to trumpet the rights of persons being affected as a result of the blockades in Region 10.
According to Persaud in his presentation, the Leaders of the protest must recognize the right of others and “act more responsible.”
The Local Government Minister blamed leaders of the protest for what had transpired on July 18, where the three persons were shot and killed.
Felix, the former Police Commissioner sought to give a track record of tragedies occurring under the watch of Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee.
He spoke of Bartica, Lusignan and Lindo Creek massacres as well as the torture of Twyon Thomas.
He pointed too, at the $16M purchase of a boat for the Guyana Police Force which has since been embroiled in its own controversy as well as that of the water cannon.
Addressing the issue of the water cannon, Felix recalled its dismal performance when it finally reached to the troubled mining town on Sunday. It is a ‘Water Can’, Felix said. If it were to cost $20M then “it had to be from some rubbish heap from China and polished over.”
Each government speaker expressed condolences and sympathies for the dead and equally defended the Home Affairs Minister’s called for due process to be followed.
Former PNC Executive, Joseph Hamilton charged that what the Combined Opposition had been exploring was merely to secure votes in Linden.
Hamilton was met with a constant heckle relative to “what was his call of the Government at the time” when his God-Son, Yohance Douglas had been killed by ranks of the Guyana Police Force.
Moses Nagamootoo railed into the Government and the Minister.
He said that much of what he heard being espoused by the Government Speakers “is a very feeble attempt to demonize the victims of July 18, and to shift the focus of the debate and the content of the motion to the issue of electricity.”
Nagamootoo was adamant that at the appropriate time his party is prepared to debate all of the ramifications “of the horrendous hike in electricity.”
He spoke of his days while he was a member of the PPP and had protested for rights in the past and was never shot at. “And that was in the dark days as they say.”
Government speaker, Neendkumar who serves as a Director of Sport, told the House that Minister Rohee “is a Senior Minister with high moral integrity.”
He declared that the truth about what happened, will in time be revealed and all Guyanese “will learn of the circumstances surrounding the shooting and those who are really responsible will be brought to justice.”
Calling the shootings “unfortunate” Neendkumar also charged that the burning of the Linmine Secretariat and other vehicles is “a disgrace” that would only add to the hardship of Lindeners.
APNU’s Ronald Bulkan told the House that what happened is “murder” clear to see by all that choose to look and called the agenda of the perpetrators deliberate.
“This was plain murder execution style…If we fail to act now none of us will be safe as we are in the midst of monsters.”
Manzoor Nadir who spoke in defence of the Government spoke of investments that the administration would have made in Linden.
Nadir said that he does not know of “murder” but rather “killings,” given that intent has to be proven for murder to be established.
He gave a character reference of the Minister and said that he was confident that Rohee would not have given such an order, as is being insinuated by some.
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