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Junior Culture Minister apologises for PPPC seating problems at Flag Raising

Junior Minister of Education, Culture Youth and Sport, Nicolette Henry on Friday apologised for problems with the seating accommodation that Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo and other members of parliament for the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) said they experienced at Wednesday night’s Flag Raising Ceremony.

“In the circumstances I wish to state that as the organizer of this event I apologize for any inconvenience, embarrassment or distress this incident may have caused,” she said in a detailed statement that gave a sequence of events.

Jagdeo and other PPP MPs left shortly after their arrival in protest over seating accommodation problems in the VIP area.

Following is  the statement by Minister Henry.

Background – The Parliamentary Opposition was invited to all state events and confirmed their attendance to the Flag Raising ceremony. After accepting the invitation the opposition was briefed orally by Minister Henry on Tuesday 24 May, 2016 on the following:

1. Time of Arrival – All members were requested to be seated by 9:45 pm 2. Entrance to be used – North Western (Homestretch /Vlissengen Road) 3. Seating Arrangements – Opposition Leader will be seated in Presidential Section with all other past Presidents and Prime Ministers. All other PPP members will be seated in the other VIP section.

Question Arising:
1. Was the President Speaking? Response –

No 2. Who will be speaking? Response – No keynote speakers, the announcement for National awards will be done by Col. Abraham.

3. Where will the Opposition Leader be seated? Response – In the Presidential Section.

4. How many persons could be admitted with a ticket? Response – Maximum of two.

5. Opposition Leader could not find his invitation. Response – The Opposition Leader will be admitted without his invitation. All protocols and courtesies befitting his office will be extended.

What Happened on the night of May 25.
1. Time of Arrival – 9. 55

2. Entrance Used – The Opposition approached the South Western entrance (Hadfield Street) Had it not been for the police insistence on using the North Western entrance this would have resulted in the Opposition and President arriving on the tarmac at the same time?

3. Seating Arrangements –
a. The following Persons proceeded to the Presidential Section:  Hon. Bharat Jagdeo, MP  Mr. Irfan Ali, MP  Mr. Anil Nandalall, MP  Juan Edgehill,, MP  Mr. Clement Rohee,MP
b. The remaining members remain standing in the passage as Ms. Manichand indicated they will only sit when they can be assigned seats together. (This was told to the usher)
c. Upon my arriving in the Presidential Section the Opposition Leader indicated they were concerns with the seating.

I assured him I will address this immediately, so I proceeded by personally asking other invited persons to give up their seats to ensure the Opposition members were all seated together. As soon as the persons began to give up their seats. The Opposition walked out.

In the circumstances I wish to state that as the organizer of this event I apologize for any inconvenience, embarrassment or distress this incident may have caused.