…says Speaker must be respected
Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman, believes Guyana’s Parliamentary Democracy is at a critical juncture which will require a meeting between President David Granger and the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo.
The Alliance For Change (AFC) Leader and former Speaker of the National Assembly told reporters that in all of his 20 years in the Assembly, he has never witnessed anything close to yesterday’s events that resulted in police being called in to remove People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) MP, Bishop Juan Edghill.
Edghill had refused to leave the Chamber upon an order from Speaker, Dr. Barton Scotland, after he refused to heed instructions to take his seat.
“When there has been a government and when there has been an opposition there has always been a Speaker. The Speaker has always been shown respect and whenever the Speaker has invited a member to sit, be quiet or refrain or withdraw that has always been complied with,” Trotman stated.
During the chaotic situation, Trotman had met with the Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira in an attempt to defuse the situation.
Trotman recalled the most recent incident where a woman dressed as Santa Clause entered the Chamber last Friday. He also pointed to the PPP/C MPs drowning out the President’s address to the National Assembly.
He termed it as a fast slippage into disorder.
“After today [Monday], the Speaker has a duty to call in the Chief Whips, the Leader of the Opposition and the President of Guyana about whether or not we want to continue to be a Parliamentary democracy or whether we want to be labeled internationally as a bunch of hooligans,” Trotman noted.
He said in yesterday’s case, Dr. Barton followed the correct procedural steps and it is for the Clerk of the Assembly, if he feels the Sergeant-at-Arms is incapable of enforcing the Speaker’s ruling, to invite the police in.
“None of us would like to see chaos erupting further. I believe there has been enough of it, but at the end of the day the Parliamentary system we practice under is one where the Speaker is the presiding officer and that presiding officer must be shown respect and the dignity of the House must be maintained.
He urged members of the opposition to try to deescalate the situation, although by late last evening, it appeared that there was no solution. He stated that the Speaker cannot be accepted to resume the chair where there has been a breakdown in order.
Trotman said Guyana is in new territory. He said that while there have been previous incidents where MPs have hurled objects at the Speaker, the situation did not descend to where it did yesterday.
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