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Eight Opposition MPs to be suspended over NRF protest

Jun 20, 2022 News -- Source -- Kaieteur News Online -- https://www.kaieteurnewsonline...ed-over-nrf-protest/

– motion by Privileges Committee for next sitting

Kaieteur News – A motion to suspend eight opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) is set to be tabled at the next sitting of the National Assembly.

The motion to be tabled is as a result of a decision made at the level of the Parliamentary Privileges Committee following the ruckus which was caused in the House at the December 29, 2021, during the passage of the Natural Resource Fund (NRF).

The NRF Bill 2021 was passed in the National Assembly amid chaotic in-House protest by the Opposition a Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) MPs. Last January, the names of eight opposition parliamentarians were submitted and considered by the committee for disciplinary action to be meted out.

Kaieteur News understands that following deliberations of the committee, it was recommended that the Opposition MPs: Sherod Duncan, Christopher Jones, Ganesh Mahipaul, Vinceroy Jordan, Annette Ferguson, Natasha Singh-Lewis, Maureen A. Philadelphia, and Tabitha Halley be suspended from the House.

This newspaper understands while no date has been set for the motion to be tabled, the privileges committee is recommending that four of the MPs Philadelphia, Halley, Jordan and Ferguson be suspended for six sittings of the House while the others are to be suspended for four consecutive sittings.

Last December, when Minister, with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, was invited by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir – to deliver his remarks on the Bill – the opposition MPs erupted with chants, “No thieving Bill must pass!” as they slammed the bottom of their plastic water bottles to their desks in rhythmic fashion and some of them even took the mace from the Speaker Desk.

As such, recommendations were made for the MPs to be taken before the Parliamentary Privileges Committee and face disciplinary action.
Government Chief Whip and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira, had called for the Opposition MPs to be cited for the “gross misconduct.”

Teixeira in tabling the motion cited Standing Order 32 which states “(2) Any Member desiring to raise a matter under this Standing Order shall first obtain leave of the Speaker who will determine whether the Member is entitled to raise the matter as a question of privilege. (3) If permission is given by the Speaker under paragraph two (2) of this Standing Order, the Member so permitted may raise it any time after questions to Ministers and move that the matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges.”

The Minister said that the events of December 29 will go down in the annals of the Guyana Parliament as disgraceful and that in the age of technology the evidence of the conduct of the Opposition is indisputable. She argued that the space between the government side and the opposition in any parliament is considered a “safe zone” and that was breached.

“The safe space and any entrance without permission is interpreted as an act of aggression and a threat to the safety of the members of parliament…These events that transpired in this House, the stealing and the damage to the mace of Parliament, deliberate (and) willful damage to the equipment of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, the control communication room, the assault on a member of staff, the repeated disregard for the Speaker and the authority of the Assembly require stern measures. As a consequence, so I brought and sought your leave and received your permission to bring a privilege motion and I do so now,” Teixeira said.

The motion, which was not circulated prior to its reading, said that the APNU+AFC coalition MPs conducted themselves in a “grossly, disorderly, contumacious and disrespectful manner and in particular,repeatedly disregarded and disrespected, ignored the authority of the Assembly and the Speaker thereby committing contempt and breaches of privilege.”

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