Dr Asha Kissoon says will take Deputy Speaker’s post if offered, wants Parliamentary independence from APNU+AFC
By Kurt Campbell
Deputy Speaker and Leader of the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) Lennox Shuman’s tenure in the National Assembly ends today (March 31, 2023); he will be replaced by Leader of The New Movement (TNM), Dr. Asha Kissoon who intends to serve by building on his success.
Dr. Kissoon said she will accept the Deputy Speaker’s post if current Parliamentarians repose confidence in her.
The Deputy Speaker’s post is usually held by a member of the parliamentary opposition and on one occasion, it was held by a member of a minority government at the time. It requires a majority vote from among the 65 parliamentarians to secure the top post.
“I’m not eyeing it per se, it has to be voted on and I have no idea how that will go but I do believe that any capacity that I’m able to represent my constituency, I will be willing to take that,” Dr. Kissoon said at a press conference on Friday.
She assured the press that there is no active political lobbying in the background for her to secure support.
“Now, I will learn from his (Shuman’s) negatives and positives and try to improve on it,” Dr. Kissoon said, noting that it was a happy day for her to finally make her entrance into Parliament.
Top on her agenda is to effect change to the polarised two-party political system that has dominated local politics and Parliament for decades.
“We want Guyanese people to know that there is a third force, that this third force is representing persons who do not believe in the two-party system,” Dr. Kissoon said.
This was obtained by the Alliance for Change but that party later teamed up with the People’s National Congress and other parties to form the APNU+AFC coalition.
“We are not joining anybody. We are an independent opposition. However, we will work with both government and opposition once it is for the betterment of the people,” Dr. Kissoon asserted Friday.
In addition to pushing for transparency within the government and constitutional reform, Dr. Kissoon also wants political independence for smaller opposition parties like TNM in the Parliament.
That independence would include direct funding and state resources to establish their offices and offer support to their constituencies, similar to what is afforded to the main opposition APNU+AFC.
“Something that is very sore for us is that because of the two-party system, the joinder as an independent opposition has not been able to shine legally because we fall under APNU+AFC as opposition. So, I want change through constitutional reform to allow us to function as an independent opposition.”
Dr. Kissoon said smaller opposition parties should get the same resources the main opposition gets. She is also keen on care for the vulnerable and will support policies in that regard.
She was joined by the Chairman of ANUG, Mark France and other senior members of both parties at the press conference on Friday.
She will serve for a few months before the baton is passed to a member of ANUG.
Dr. Kissoon, 33, studied medicine in Cuba, and currently serves as the doctor in charge of the Sophia Health Centre; she entered politics for the March 02, 2020 elections as the presidential candidate for TNM.
The TNM, together with A New and United Guyana (ANUG) and the Liberty and Justice Party (JLP), joined their lists to contest the elections.
The combined votes gained in the elections allowed the three parties to have one seat in the National Assembly. They had agreed that the seat would be rotated so that all three parties would have representation in the five-year term of the Parliament.