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APNU demotes Vanessa Kissoon down the back-bench

Vanessa Kissoon (second from left) shortly after being seated for the first time on the lower end of the back bench

A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) parliamentarian Vanessa Kissoon has been demoted further down the back bench in the National Assembly, prompting at least one government parliamentarian to register her concern about how women are being treated in the House.

Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand was heckled when she made her feelings know about Kissoon’s apparent demotion during debate on the Recording of Court Proceedings Bill. “For persons who are myopically saying that I should concern myself with this side of the House I want to suggest that the cause of women in Guyana, the cause of women across the world still has to be a united front…Every little demotion like that seen here really dents out progress,” she said.

However, her observations did not go down well with APNU parliamentarians including Amna Ally who shouted angrily: “You ain’t got no business with what we do over here man.”

In an apparent reaction to Manickchand from the floor, APNU parliamentarian James Bond sought to brush aside the views of the government minister. Bond argued that service cuts across race, class and sex. “Whether a member is in the back bench or the front bench all members on this side of the House are allowed to serve and serve the people they represent,” he said.

Sources close to Kissoon said she only knew of her new seating arrangement when a Parliament Office staff member informed her. The sources said no one from APNU told Kissoon that she would have been moved to the last row of the opposition coalition’s 26 seats.
Asked how she felt about being moved, Kissoon would only say: “Where I sit does not matter. I have been elected to serve the Guyanese people and in particular the people of Region 10 and that’s what matters.”

Kissoon , Region 10 Chairman Sharma Solomon and other Peoples National Congress Reform (PNCR) activists have long been at odds with that party and APNU’s handling of now shelved plans to increase the cost of electricity in Linden.

At Monday’s sitting, Shadow Local Government Minister Ronald Bulkan was brought to the front bench. Newly sworn in APNU MP Dr. Karen Cummings replaced Debra Backer but she is seated in the middle row where Kissoon once sat.