Small parties hope to retain Deputy Speaker position even after Shuman vacates seat

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With the dominant APNU+AFC opposition up in arms over the election of Lenox Shuman as Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, the three small parties that hold a single opposition seat in the House, hope to retain the post even after Shuman vacates the seat.

When Shuman sits in the National Assembly, he doesn’t only represent his Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) but he also sits there on votes garnered by two other small parties – A New and United Guyana (ANUG) and The New Movement (TNM).

The three parties entered a Joiner of Lists Agreement, which would not only see their votes being counted collectively but also allow for the sharing of the lone seat they managed to secure.

Shuman is expected to vacate the seat within two years to allow for a representative from one of the other parties to take up the seat on the opposition side of the House.

Although the parties are yet to decide on who the next person will be, they are hopeful that the person will be able to retain the Deputy Speaker post with the support of the other members of the House.

Speaking to the News Room by telephone on Wednesday Leader of TNM Dr Asha Kissoon congratulated Shuman and said he has the full support of the TNM.

She said it was agreed upon by the three parties, even before Shuman accepted the position that the Deputy Speaker post will remain with the joinder.

“So, when he vacates, another joinder member will be nominated and voted upon, that’s the general idea,” Dr Kissoon explained.

She hopes that the joinder will get the support of the majority members of the House in order to achieve this.

“Traditionally the opposition has held the seat and we are the opposition, so I don’t see it being an issue and we have no alliance with the PPP. It was up to them to vote for a member in the opposition to take up that mantle and it so happens they had another choice now. There isn’t only the APNU+AFC, there is an independent opposition in Parliament which is us,” she added.

The Coalition had walked out the mid-morning sitting of the National Assembly, saying it was in direct protest to Shuman’s election as Deputy Speaker.

Shuman, a former Indigenous Chief went up against Chairman of the Alliance For Change and 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 Cathy Hughes.

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 Parliamentarian.

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