Nov 08, 2022 News
– as MPs walk out of National Assembly
Kaieteur News – Members of the Opposition on Monday morning walked out of the National Assembly after Speaker of the House, Manzoor Nadir refused to allow both ‘questions without notice’ and a Motion submitted by that side of the House.
Member of Parliament, Jermaine Figueira had requested to raise questions in the House without notice, as allowed for under the Parliamentary proceedings. However, the Speaker said the issues were neither urgent nor important. As such, he refused to allow the Opposition Member to ask his questions.
Meanwhile, a Motion submitted by Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton to facilitate a clean voters’ list to avoid voter impersonation, among others was also disallowed on these grounds. Norton told the House, prior to his Motion being dismissed, that international observers of the March 2020 elections had highlighted the need for a clean List of Electors (OLE). Additionally, he said that by simply looking at the one will grasp that in a country of about 750,000 residents, 682,000 nationals are on the list which suggests its lack of integrity.
Against this backdrop, he explained, “It is my sincere hope that we can debate this Motion.” Nadir in dismissing the Motion explained that it failed to meet the requirements; hence, it would not be allowed to move forward. According to him, “For a matter to qualify under this particular item, the issue of definite urgent public importance is (or) are necessary. The issue is also upcoming and I consider this Motion at this time not of the urgency that requires this debate, so I would be unable to allow the Motion to proceed further than this.”
It was on this note that the Opposition walked out of the Parliamentary session. Yesterday marked the first Sitting after the House went into recess for the August holiday. In a subsequent statement issued by the joint Opposition, the Coalition said, “The PPP continues to make the National Assembly into an institution that does not serve the people of Guyana. The government’s refusal to discuss critical issues such as the high cost of living, increase in poverty, alleged bribery and corruption involving Bharrat Jagdeo, the unwillingness to debate natural gas flaring and now the refusal to permit the Assembly to address the issue of the enactment of Constitutional and Statutory amendments to facilitate a clean voters’ list are clear indications that the government is not democratic and they have no interest in, or commitment to Parliamentary democracy.”
Norton in delivering the statement said the PPP has “emasculated” the Public Accounts Committee, thereby preventing the scrutiny of taxpayers’ dollars. This, he said, is testimony that government is “corrupt and incompetent” and cannot afford for its spending to be placed under the microscope.
He was keen to point out that the lack of this scrutiny will allow for the misuse of funds garnered from the oil and gas sector. Additionally, the Opposition Leader pointed out that, “Even as the government is avoiding scrutiny of the taxpayer’s money, they refuse to increase the wages and salaries of public servants.”
This refusal, according to him, amidst increasing income from the oil industry is a clear indication that the government does not care about the people of Guyana. Moreover, the Opposition insisted that, “The society is also experiencing total disrespect to the people of Guyana. There is no respect for the rule of law. The suspension of eight Opposition MPs without a hearing is ridiculous and unacceptable since it brings the non-compliance with the rule of law in the very Chambers that should protect the law.”
Norton added that government’s disrespect for the rule of law was clearly depicted when an Attorney-at-Law, Tamieka Clarke was arrested by the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU)- an arm of the Guyana Police Force (GPF).
As such, he explained, “The foregoing therefore leads one to the conclusion that it cannot be business as usual, and it is in this context that our walkout of the National Assembly must be seen.” The Opposition has routinely criticized the speaker for preventing them from asking questions in the House on important national issues. In addition, they also called him out on several occasions for “butchering” motions submitted by their MPs. In fact only recently, the Alliance For Change (AFC) during a press conference flagged that after eight months it finally received a correspondence from the National Assembling informing that a Motion submitted has been disallowed.
In highlighting the issue, former Minister Catherine Hughes explained, “Questions to the House continue to be butchered, not edited and often lack a timely response. All this is in addition to the infrequent sittings which indirectly silence debate on important issues, as for example, private members day –which occurs every fourth sitting when Opposition issues are examined, can take months now to come around.”
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