Legal action looms over impending suspension of opposition parliamentarians – Demerara Waves Online News – Guyana

Updated on Monday, July 18, 2022, 4:20 p.m. by Denis Chabrol

A replica of the mace in front of President Manzoor Nadir before Governance Minister Gail Teixeira asked the question for the National Resources Fund Bill to be read a third time. (file photo)

Eight opposition parliamentarians from the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) could be suspended from four to six sittings for their alleged role in disorderly behavior late last year in an attempt to block the debate and adoption of the law on the Natural Resources Fund.

But already one of the lawmakers, Ganesh Mahipaul, has said he and his colleagues were denied a fair hearing because the bipartisan parliamentary privileges committee failed to respond to their request for details of alleged breaches. . “If what you are telling me is correct, then we will have to go to court to get help in this case. But I think it’s quite simple. We have been denied our basic constitutional rights and it is fundamentally illegal to do so,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.

Government members of the Privileges Committee are relying on live video recordings at the time of the incident, correspondence from staff in the Parliament Building, and testimony from the media and others.

Questioning the jurisdiction of the Privileges Committee on the grounds that the National Assembly was not regularly in session after 8 p.m. on December 29, 2021 because no extension had been requested, the parliamentarians in almost identical letters denied having committed any offence.

“I am not aware that my conduct was any different from that of other members of the National Assembly on the day in question and I am of the opinion that nothing I did on that day constituted disorderly conduct rude, contempt and breach of privilege. Accordingly, I request that you provide me with particulars of the gross disorderly conduct, contempt and breach of privilege alleged against me, so that, on the advice of my attorney , I am sending you a detailed response on why I should not be sanctioned,” they said.

Based on the report of the Privileges Committee, Chief Opposition Whip Christopher Jones, Sherod Duncan, Natasha Singh-Lewis and Mahipaul would be suspended from four consecutive sittings for grossly disorderly, contemptuous and disrespectful conduct, and repeatedly disregarding the authority of the Assembly and that of the Speaker, and thus committing outrages and breaches of privilege.

In addition, parliamentarians Annette Ferguson and Vinceroy Jordan would be suspended for six consecutive sittings for further committing serious gross and flagrant violations by removing the parliamentary mace from its rightful position without permission in a disorderly manner, causing damage to the mace, injuring and attacking a staff of the Bureau of the Parliament, while trying to remove the Mace from the hemicycle.

In addition, Parliamentarian Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, according to the report, would be suspended for six consecutive sittings for entering the communications control room of the Arthur Chung Conference Center (ACCC) without authorization and destroying several audiovisual equipment, being property public.

Supporting correspondence to the Liens Committee indicates that the damaged equipment has a value of GY$351,900.00.

In the report, which could be tabled in the National Assembly during Thursday’s sitting, Governance and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Gail Teixeira said the eight MPs had “neither admitted to violating the Standing Orders nor assumed the slightest responsibility for their actions in the National Assembly”. Assembly.

The conduct of the eight lawmakers on December 29, 2021 was referred to the Privileges Committee

After lengthy deliberations, the Committee had asked lawmakers on March 7 to “justify in writing” to the Clerk of the National Assembly by March 7, 2022 why that body should not recommend to the Assembly that sanctions be imposed on them. imposed.

Mr Mahipaul said that after he and his colleagues formally requested details of the alleged breaches, none had been received and he therefore believed there was no impartial hearing or in which he and his colleagues would be entitled to a fair trial in accordance with the Constitution of Guyana.

During the chaotic scene, many UNPA+AFC parliamentarians had marched around the National Assembly chanting and whistling in an attempt to prevent the Natural Resources Fund Bill from being debated and passed. Prime Minister Mark Phillips and other government ministers had formed a human chain almost around Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh as he spoke about the bill.

After the mace was removed by Ms Ferguson, House Speaker Manzoor Nadir said the session continued with a replica of the mace. The opposition has since challenged the legality of this session on the grounds that the original mace was not in place and no one was aware of a replica of the mace.

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