Punishment for Opposition MPs, repairs to damaged Mace; Speaker says Bill lawfully passed
In the aftermath of the chaos that unfolded in the National Assembly Wednesday night, Speaker Manzoor Nadir on Thursday said there will be repercussions for Opposition Parliamentarians who seized the Parliament’s authority – the Mace – which was also damaged during the tug-of-war between Parliament staff and Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) led by the APNU+AFC’s Annette Ferguson.
“An attack on the Mace is an attack on the authority in Parliament and it cannot go unpunished. Those who attacked the Mace will face the consequences.
“Only one person touches the Mace and it is the Sergeant of Arms. It cannot go without repercussions,” Speaker Nadir said during a press conference held in the Chamber at Public buildings, Brickdam.
The Speaker did not name the MP that seized the Mace but video footage shows Ferguson snatching the instrument and then being assisted by another male Opposition MP.
The Opposition’s protest which escalated into what the Speaker condemned as “disrespect for the institution” unfolded as the government moved to pass amendments to the Natural Resource Fund Act. The Opposition had asked for it to be deferred and sent to a Special Select Committee but the government had long said it would pass the amendments before the end of 2021.
And now with a new discussion on whether the Mace was present in the House when the Bill was passed, the Speaker has confirmed that it was.
“I want to make it pellucid that the Bill was passed lawfully and legally last evening,” Nadir told the press conference.
He said while the traditional Mace was “violently removed” and damaged during the scuffle, he had an exact replica – presented to Guyana by the House of Commons when Guyana became independent in 1966.
But that’s just one ingredient for the legal passage of the Bill. The Speaker said he is also satisfied that the majority of government MPs were in their seats, as is required by the Standing Orders, for the vote to go through.
The Opposition argues that the Bill was not lawfully passed and has promised to take legal action.
Meanwhile, Nadir said another Opposition MP gained access to the control room and switched off mics and the internet connection, disrupting the live broadcast of the sitting.
“Our Parliament is a young one that has seen trials and tribulations in its short history. Emotions and tempers will flare… this incident in Parliament ought to strengthen their resolve going forward as a country and we should not behave in such an uncivilized manner,” Nadir reasoned.
He thanked the staff of Parliament for their professionalism and the polite manner in which they defended the sanctity of the National Assembly “…in spite of the threats and terrorist like mechanisms employed by members of the opposition.”