APNU’s Annette Ferguson attempts to steal Speaker’s mace
-‘Thuggish behaviour’, says Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh
As Opposition Members of Parliament attempted to stop the passage of the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Bill, Opposition APNU+AFC Member of Parliament Annette Ferguson attempted to steal the Speaker’s mace.
The National Assembly returned from a brief intermission on Wednesday afternoon after the historic Local Content Bill was successfully passed with amendments.
Upon its resumption, members of the National Assembly were expected to debate the government-proposed amendments to the NRF Act. These amendments, like the new Local Content legislation, are crucial for the transparent management of Guyana’s oil and gas sector.
But even before the Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance Dr Ashni Singh could begin his presentation on the NRF Bill, the National Assembly was disrupted by Members of the Opposition.
Still, after some delay, Government Members of Parliament physically surrounded Dr. Singh, allowing him to continue his presentation of the Bill without the physical interruption despite the enduring commotion.
But while Dr. Singh presented on the Bill, Opposition Member Ferguson was seen attempting to snatch the Speaker’s Mace.
For context, the Mace is the most significant symbol in the National Assembly. It represents the authority of Parliament. When he enters or leaves the Chamber, the Speaker is preceded by the Sergeant-at-Arms bearing the Mace on his right shoulder.
When the National Assembly is in session, the Mace is placed on the Clerk’s table, with its head pointing towards the Government side of the Chamber.
Officers of the Parliament literally fought to protect the Mace and surrounded the Speaker, too, to keep him safe as the Finance Minister continued reading the Bill.
In a video uploaded on Facebook, an officer of the Parliament was seen lying in the ground, clutching the Mace. As he tried to prevent the Mace from being stolen, derogatory racial remarks were hurled at him by APNU+AFC Parliamentarians.
Meanwhile, As Dr. Singh continued presenting, he said that the Opposition Parliamentarians were displaying “vulgar” and “thuggish behaviour”.
He likened their behaviour to the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Act that was being amended by the PPP/C government, contending that the existing Act did not allow for transparency in the management of Guyana’s oil wealth.
Instead of being put to a vote after presentations from a number of speakers from both sides of the House, the Bill was put to a vote after Dr. Singh’s presentation. And it was passed.