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Opposition MPs disrupt sitting to demand apology from Manickchand

Government Members of Parliament stand in solidarity with Priya Manickchand (GINA photo)

Friday’s banging on the parliament desks and the chanting took the House by surprise since the Government benches had considered the issue resolved with the Speaker’s ruling to allow the Minister to speak.

Nevertheless after one suspension with the intention of working out the issue, it was repeated each time the Minister attempted to speak.  While the Opposition continued to protest, members of the Government side stood up in solidarity with their colleague. Speaker Trotman then adjourned the sitting until Monday, April 7.

Meanwhile, Government MPs made their views clear after the adjournment, and did so on live television via the National Communications Network. Government’s Chief Whip Gail Teixeira stated clearly that an agreement had been reached with the two parliamentary parties. She said that APNU has since reneged on the agreement and is intent on using the Government as a whipping boy. MP Teixeira insisted that this has been the role of the opposition throughout the Tenth Parliament.

Minister Manickchand herself expressed disappointment that one heckle could have caused so much disruption. She reiterated that she thought the issue resolved and had made it clear that her heckle had not targeted anyone. The Minister expressed shock that the opposition would try to prevent her from representing her right to her constituents. She questioned what had happened between the time of the agreement and Friday night.

Leader of the House, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds also expressed astonishment and disappointment at the occurrences in the House. He noted that the message sent to the people of Guyana through the Opposition’s actions is that of their example of reneging on their agreements.

Government MP Carnel Damon also made it clear that he was disappointed with the occurrences in the National Assembly on Friday night. He insisted that the Minister did not say anything wrong, and posited that the Opposition was feeling battered (in terms of the debate) and as such reacted accordingly.

Other Government MPs who also vocally condemned the actions of the Opposition include Ministers Ashni Singh, Jennifer Westford, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Juan Edghill, Leslie Ramsammy and Irfaan Ali.

It is not clear what will occur on Monday when Minister Manickchand again rises to speak.