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APNU explains Volda Lawrence’s recorded abstention

A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) parliamentarian, Volda Lawrence on Friday sought to explain how her vote for spending on the security sector went down as an abstention.

Lawrence said by the time she could have received advice from APNU Chief Whip, Amna Ally on how to vote immediately on returning to the Chamber she did not respond when her name was called. “The Speaker should have put it line-by-line and not together. Instead of that he put it wholly so by the time I concurred with my Chief Whip it was already gone on the floor,” Lawrence told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com).

When contacted, Ally corroborated Lawrence’s account and also expanded what had transpired. Ally said the opposition had expected House Speaker to put each financial paper separately rather than bunch all of them together. “By bunching all of them together, we had to vote the way we did because if he had put them separately we would have decided which one we were supporting, if at all, and which one we were not,” she told Demerara Waves Online News

The Opposition Chief Whip said Lawrence was unwell and was not readily aware of what was happening on her return to the House around the time of voting for the security sector. “Ms. Lawrence was sick. When she came in back, she didn’t catch herself until long after and she couldn’t speak, she was making signs to the Clerk,” said Ally.

Ally assured that “there was no sinister move, no deflection” by Lawrence. Asked to respond to suggestions by several ordinary folk that she might have benefitted from inducements from the government to abstain, Lawrence refused to answer, referred further questions to Ally and terminated the phone call.

The combined opposition has a one-seat majority of 33 of the 65 seats in the House. In addition to Lawrence’s abstention, her colleague APNU Parliamentarian, Debra Backer was absent from Thursday’s sitting due to poor health following a recent surgery.

APNU Chairman, David Granger echoed the Chief Whip’s position that Lawrence had been absent at one time because she was unwell and she was assisted by two other parliamentarians.

Against the background of Lawrence being “distraught” on her return to the House, Granger shied away from saying that she abstained. “I heard no sound from her and I wouldn’t use the word ‘abstain’ but I certainly heard no sound from her when the vote was taken,” she said.

The Opposition Leader said an investigation would be launched and he planned to meet and speak with her.