Coalition frowns at Shuman’s election to Deputy Speaker, walks out in protest
The Opposition APNU+AFC coalition is accusing the governing People’s Progressive Party of sending distressing and sad signals as both sides of the House gathered at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre for the convening of the 12th Parliament.
Coalition Members of Parliament walked out of the mid-morning sitting on Tuesday, saying it was in direct protest to, among other things, the election of Lenox Shuman as Deputy Speaker.
Catherine Hughes who comes from the Alliance for Change, one of the parties in the Coalition, believes the move confirms the PPP government’s unwillingness to work with them in the National Assembly.
Shuman, a former Indigenous Chief went up against former Speaker Raphael Trotman for the post and secured the majority votes to be successfully elected to the position.
He was nominated by Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs Gail Teixeira while Trotman was nominated by Hughes.
The government MPs with their 33 majority in the House voted in favour of Shuman allowing for his successful election. Shuman also voted for the motion allowing for a 34/31 vote count.
Describing the move as an abomination, Hughes says this goes against a long-standing tradition and convention that the Deputy Speaker position goes to an opposition MP.
“At the end of the day the APNU+AFC is the predominant opposition amassing more than 217,000 votes… How in all consciousness could you not do the right thing and ensure that in the interest of unity and working together that you allow the opposition to fill the position of Deputy Speaker,” she added.
But there is no rule that this must happen and neither is it enshrined in any of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly. In fact, the APNU and the AFC had taken both the Speaker position and the Deputy Speaker position in 2011 when it held the majority in the House.
Trotman served as Speaker with Deborah Baker as Deputy Speaker, both members of the opposition at the time.
Shuman himself is a member of the opposition but Hughes feels that the government should have let the nomination from the substantive APNU+AFC coalition to stand.
She slammed Shuman for accepting the post as Deputy Speaker, saying that she doesn’t believe he will look out for the interest of the opposition while he also works as an Advisor for the government.
“How do you have someone who will look out for interest of opposition who is now advisor for government… you have now put a person who could not get 3000 votes… he didn’t even have the ability to get his own seat… so I could say who does Mr. Shuman speaks for?” Hughes questioned.
She said the walk out was in protest of bad signals coming from the government inclusive of the election of Shuman as Deputy Speaker.
“As a mark of protest to the throwing us aside of a long-held convention with regard to the Deputy Speaker we decided we did not need to sit there.
Notwithstanding, Hughes explained to the News Room that the APNU+AFC is willing to ensure that there is a vibrant opposition in place.
“We will not shirk that responsibility,” she assured.