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Govt names 8 opposition parliamentarians for possible disciplinary action; counter motion not considered so far

Last Updated on Monday, 24 January 2022, 15:31 by Denis Chabrol

Opposition Chief Whip Christopher Jones holding up a laptop to show the House Speaker Manzoor Nadir that the motion was sent on the correct letter head.

Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs, Gail Teixeira on Monday secured House Speaker Manzoor Nadir’s approval to refer eight opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) parliamentarians to a committee to face possible disciplinary action.

“Be it resolved that this National Assembly expresses the unwavering abhorrence of such gross disorderly conduct, contempt and breaches of privilege which took place on December 29, 2021,” she said in the motion.

For its part, APNU+AFC had hoped to get a motion considered for 21 government parliamentarians to be referred to to the Privileges Committee but Mr. Nadir said the motion appeared on a press release letterhead of Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon.

After hearing Ms. Teixeira listed the accusations against the opposition legislators, Mr. Nadir referred the matter to the Privileges Committee. She wants the matter to be addressed within one month because of the “seriousness of these violations.”

The Governance and Parliamentary Affairs Minister  named Christopher Jones, Ganesh Mahipaul, Sherod Duncan, Natasha Singh-Lewis, Annette Ferguson, Vinceroy Jordan, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, and Maureen Philadelphia. “Members of the APNU+AFC conducted themselves in a grossly disorderly, contumacious and disrespectful manner and in particular repeatedly disregarded, disrespected and ignored the authority of the Assembly and that of the Speaker thereby committing contempt and breaches of privilege.

Ms. Teixeira singled out Ms. Ferguson and Mr. Jordon for removing the mace from the dais. “Whereas Honourable Members Annette Ferguson and Vinceroy Jordan further committed breaches of privilege by forcefully, unauthorisedly and in a disorderly fashion removing the mace from its rightful position and attempting to remove it from the Chamber, thereby creating grave disorder and chaos which resulted in injuries to a member of staff of the Parliament Office and damage to the mace,” she said.

The minister further accused Ms. Sarabo-Halley of committing contempt and breaches of privilege by unauthorisedly entering the communications control room of the Arthur Chung Control Centre, a part of the Chamber, and “destroyed several pieces of audio-visual equipment, being public property, with the intention to disrupt the sound and Internet connection so as to affect the Assembly from conducting its lawful business.”

The House Speaker said that the no-confidence motion against him would “go through the regular procedures” but the other one that sought to send the 21 government lawmakers  was received on the letter head of the Leader of the Opposition’s press release. He said that the motion was resubmitted just over an hour before the start of Monday’s sitting. “As such, I did not have an opportunity to review the matters raised and I want to assure the Honourable Member Mr. Jones that that is going to be done expeditiously and that we will deal with his motion,” Mr. Nadir said.

The Opposition Chief Whip, holding a laptop screen with possibly evidence, stated that two email sent Sunday night were not on the Opposition Leader’s letter head, but the House Speaker told him to clarify that with the Staff of the National Assembly.