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Guyana’s Speaker’s Mace not stolen; Opposition wants fixed dates for National Assembly’s reconvening

Last Updated on Friday, 31 October 2014, 22:12 by GxMedia

The Sergeant-at-Arms places the Mace before the Speaker (Kaieteur News photo)

The Speaker’s Mace – his symbol of authority- is not stolen or missing, contrary to claims by House Speaker Raphael Trotman.

Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs told Caribbean News Desk that he removed the Mace from the Speaker’s Office Thursday afternoon but did not inform him due to a busy work schedule.

“The Mace is right here. I have it in my office for cleaning. We also plan to put it in a new case… that will be transparent,” he said.

Isaacs later added in a statement that the Mace would remain in the Clerk’s Office over the weekend and then returned to the Speaker’s Office on Monday, 3rd November, 2014.

In a statement issued to the media at 4:54 PM, Mr Trotman said that after he noticed that the Mace was not in his office Friday afternoon he made inquiries but no one could give an explanation.  “Upon making enquiries no one could furnish a reasonable response or explanation as to its whereabouts. Staff members appeared afraid to give provide and explanation,” he said.  

Update: Reacting,  a clearly upset House Speaker expressed disappointment that the Clerk entered his office ad removed the Mace.  “He would be e last person I would expect to do something like that without informing the Speaker that his office had been entered into and the most valuable symbol in the building is gone is quite surprising,” he told Caribbean News Desk.

While Trotman said he was relieved that the Mace was found, he said it did not appear to be coincident that the Mace was removed from his office in a similar manner that that symbol had gone missing decades ago when the Speaker had failed to get the Clerk to put arrangements for a sitting. “If he is going to move the Mace I should be told.”

Asked why he did  not ask the Clerk about the Mace, Trotman said the Clerk was not in office at the time and that he was unable to call him on his cellular phone because he (Trotman) was rushing off to meetings.

The Speaker had earlier said that he discovered the Mace- his symbol of authority- was removed from its usual place “without my permission, knowledge or consent.” “The entire protective case in which the Mace is kept is also missing in its entirety,” he added.

He said that from time immemorial, the Mace is kept in the Speaker’s office and is only removed by the Sergeant-at-Arms for use during sittings or for temporary viewing by guests on tour of the National Assembly.

This latest twist of events came just about six hours after A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) announced that it has reached consensus with the Alliance For Change (AFC) for the relevant Standing Orders (parliamentary rules of procedure) to ensure certainty about its reconvening after a recess, the Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman announced that the mace has been stolen.

APNU General Secretary and front-bench parliamentarian, Joseph Harmon told a news conference that a Motion would be filed in the National Assembly to avoid any future grid-lock. “We will be shortly filing a motion in the National Assembly calling for an amendment to some of the Standing Orders that will provide for a date by which Parliament should recommence or reconvene at the end of a recess,” he said. He said the amendments would also seek to allow the majority of members of the National Assembly to approach the Speaker for a sitting or adjournment of the National Assembly.

The opposition’s move came days after the Clerk of the National Assembly disobeyed the Speaker’s instruction to reconvene the House on Thursday, September 6. While the Clerk cited the current Standing Orders that provide for the government to do so, he has acknowledged that it should be amended because it does not take account  an opposition-controlled House.

Although the two-month parliamentary recess ended on October 10, sittings of the opposition-controlled House have not resumed at a time when there is an AFC-sponsored no-confidence motion. If passed, President Donald Ramotar and his cabinet would have to resign and make way for general and regional elections in three months.

The 65-seat House last met on July 10 and was adjourned to a date to be fixed.

While Government Chief Whip Gail Teixeira has said that her administration is not afraid of the no-confidence motion, she has not agreed with her opposition counterpart, Amna Ally on when the House will reconvene.

“We believe that this gridlock, which has occurred and the delay in dealing with the people’s business, should not take place,”  said Harmon.

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October 2014