Speaker again denies Opposition’s questions on Pompeo’s visit; Harmon says ruling unfair, bias
Speaker of the National Assembly Manzoor Nadir for the second time on Wednesday denied questions put forward by the Parliamentary Opposition on the scheduled visit of U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The Speaker had cause to deny oral questions without notice that were put forward by Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon on Tuesday.
But shortly after those questions were denied, the APNU+AFC Opposition filed questions again on the visit by Pompeo, insisting that the Government must publicise the reason and agenda for the visit.
The Speaker in denying the questions for the second time on Wednesday said that the questions submitted do not qualify as urgent.
“Two days ago, [Amanza] Walton Desir submitted questions without notice, yesterday I ruled and it was re-submitted by [Christopher] Jones, again today. Under Standing Order 18, it requires that questions without notice has urgency and importance. I maintained that the questions submitted do not qualify as urgent,” the Speaker said.
Speaker Nadir said the questions which were being posed one day before the arrival of Pompeo was important but does not qualify as urgent.
“So I am not allowing that question.”
Harmon has rejected the Speaker’s ruling and insists that the Government must give assurances ahead of Pompeo’s visit that Guyana’s interest will not be compromised.
“Today is the 16th tomorrow is the 17th, how much more urgent can this be?… the people of Guyana will not accept this kind of behaviour,” Harmon said on the APNU+AFC’s live Facebook page after the Speaker’s ruling.
Harmon said the Opposition requires to know what matters will be discussed during Pompeo’s visit and felt that Parliament was the best place to make those inquires.
“What is so difficult? What is there to hide about an import visit like this?…We consider the Speaker’s ruling to be quite unfair, unreasonable, unjust and we find that it reeks of bias,” Harmon said.
The Opposition wants to know the details of the programme and agenda on matters for discussion for the visit; the Foreign Affairs Minister to identify Guyana’s key interests and non-negotiable policies as they relate to Venezuela and whether the administration can guarantee the people of Guyana that their national interests will not be compromised.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has released a statement saying that Pompeo’s trip will highlight the United States’ commitment to defend democracy, combat COVID-19 while revitalizing economies and strengthen security against regional threats.
The agenda for the visit of Secretary of State Pompeo includes a congratulatory meeting with the newly elected president Irfaan Ali and his cabinet, meeting with CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque.
“He will reinforce the promise of a values-based U.S. partnership highlighting opportunities for more responsible and transparent private sector investment to increase prosperity for the people of Guyana, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Foreign Ministry noted.