The Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland was forced to leave the Chambers this evening (Friday, June 16, 2017), when the Opposition side of the House refuse to resume their seats in protest against an order by the Speaker.
Based on ‘a point of order’ raised by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, Dr. Scotland ordered Opposition Member of Parliament, Nigel Dharamlall to rescind statements that the government is “decimating” indigenous people.
It must be noted that the Speaker has had reasons to caution the MP throughout his speech about words used.
Failing to rescind the word used, the Speaker proceeded to call the next person on the list to debate the motion on the revocation of the Commission of Inquiry surrounding the claims of Amerindian Land Titling, the individual, joint or communal ownership of lands acquired by freed Africans and any other land titling in Guyana.
This saw the entire Opposition side of the House rising to their feet on the advice of Opposition, Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, who complained about the Speaker’s leniency towards the government side of the House.
Teixeira singled out Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman’s redress of Leader of the Opposition during last night’s (Thursday, June 15, 2017) sitting of the National Assembly calling the Minister’s reproach “abuse”.
Trotman addressed the Opposition Leader with frank words during his closing remarks on the debate of the Petroleum Commission Bill in the Assembly on Thursday evening.
After several please for the Opposition Members to resume their seats, the Speaker walked out of the chambers.
During the 15 minutes the Speaker was absent from the chambers, MP Dharamlall continued his presentation while Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo was pressed by the media for a reaction on the corridors of the Public Buildings.
Prime Minister Nagamootoo said the Opposition’s action were “very disrespectful and disorderly behaviour”. He added that these actions were “unparliamentary and uncalled for”.
The Prime Minister said that the claim made by MP Dharamlall was “a very serious charge” that is “not consistent with the motion”.
He further dismissed claims that the Speaker of the House is biased or lenient to the government side of the House.
“The Speaker of the House is an impartial person there to preside over proceedings, and he defends the integrity of the House,” PM Nagamootoo said. The Opposition has to bring forward a case against such an allegation the Prime Minister contended.
Meanwhile, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) sent out a statement condemning comments made by Minister of Labour Keith Scott who during the same debate, labelled the Amerindian’s complaints of deposition as “empty” and saying “they have manifested an attitude of avarice which should not be condoned.”
In his continued onslaught on the Amerindians, Minister Scott embraced Eric Phillips wanton distortion of historical and current events. Referring to Eric Phillips, the Minister said, “His research has revealed the weakness of the claims by the Amerindians for more lands and what is even more dangerous is their claim for sub surface rights.”
The PPP said, “such insult meted out to our Indigenous people and strife created among our peoples’ will never achieve the social cohesion which is being preached.”
It, therefore, called on the International Community, the NTC and all Non-Governmental Amerindian Organisations to condemn this grievous assault against Amerindians.