Last Updated on Wednesday, 3 March 2021, 21:13 by Denis Chabrol
Opposition parliamentarian Tabitha Sarabo-Halley on Wednesday alleged that Minister of Public Affairs Kwame Mc Coy assaulted her just outside the dome where sittings of the National Assembly are being held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC).
Ms. Sarabo-Halley said she has reported the matter to police and statements have already been taken from her and two witnesses.
The Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs told Demerara Waves Online News/News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM that surveillance video recordings were examined but nothing was seen as the area by the elevator is not covered by the cameras. Mr. Isaacs said he, Prime Minister Mark Phillips, opposition parliamentarian Natasha Singh-Lewis, the Divisional Police Commander Mr. Pareshram all viewed the video recording.
Mr. Mc Koy on Wednesday night denied committing the offence. “Absolutely ‘no’,” he told News-Talk Radio Guyana/Demerara Waves Online News, when asked whether he slapped the opposition lawmaker. He later added in a statement that, “I emphatically and completely deny that I assaulted Ms.Halley as she has alleged or at all. At no time did I touch Ms. Halley with my phone or any part of my body,” he said. Mr. Mc Coy said he would be consulting his lawyers about the “malicious” allegation that was calculated to bring him into public ridicule. He admitted that he and Ms. Sarabo-Halley had a verbal exchange. “I observed the presence of Ms. Halley who was approximately four feet away from me. We exchanged words but there was absolutely no physical contact whatsoever,” he said.
Ms. Sarabo-Halley did not say who are the witnesses and what were the circumstances that led to the alleged assault.
Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon said Ms. Sarabo-Halley was struck on her head with a phone by Mr. Mc Coy.
The claimed incident forced the suspension of the National Assembly’s consideration of estimates for the more than GYD$380 billion dollar budget after opposition lawmakers banged the desks to protest House Speaker Manzoor Nadir’s refusal for the Assembly to discuss the issue.
Mr. Nadir insisted that the committee of supply continue its work, despite requests by Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon and Opposition Chief Whip Christopher Jones that the allegation be treated immediately as urgent and important one.
“After the suspension, we’ll hear the comments about what has happened and then we’ll reconvene in an hour,” said Nadir. Mr. Jones then invoked the Standing Order that states that if 18 parliamentarians are standing and “we must be heard.”
After the House Speaker explained that only after the Assembly resumed from a committee of supply, then the 18 members could have stood and have the issue ventilated.
“This matter is not a light matter and we are requesting that the Assembly reconvene,” Jones said, adding that a female Parliamentarian was assaulted.
After the opposition parliamentarians banged their desks incessantly, the House Speaker suspended the sitting.