Last Updated on Monday, 7 February 2022, 22:18 by Writer
Prime Minister Mark Phillips on Friday appealed to the new opposition leader whenever he takes office to recognise the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC)-led administration.
“We are ready to work with whoever is appointed or elected Leader of the Opposition in the interest of Guyana. What we ask in return is for the new Leader of the Opposition to accept the legitimacy of our government. This is a government that was elected by the people of Guyana,” he told the House as the penultimate speaker on the 2022 National Budget debate.
The opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (AONU+AFC) continues to maintain that the March 2, 2020 general elections were rigged by the PPPC and that foreign stakeholders were instrumental in a change of government. But, a national vote recount shows that the votes cast mirrors the PPPC’s statements of poll.
Once Dr. Nicolette Henry resigns as an APNU+AFC parliamentarian, this is expected to trigger the eventual entry of People’s National Congress Reform leader and APNU Chairman, Aubrey Norton to the National Assembly as opposition leader. After his party’s Central Executive Committee decided that he should become opposition leader, the process has not been clockwork as much depends on the Representative of the List of APNU+AFC candidates David Granger.
While describing the People’s National Congress’ 28 years – 1964 to 1992 – in office as undemocratic, Retired Brigadier Phillips was instantly heckled as having been a PNC member which he swiftly denied. Phillips, who joined the Guyana Defence Force in 1980, said he was never a member of any political party while in military service. “I was never a PNC. I was a soldier without a party card, a professional soldier. If you could go and find a party card for me bring it. Never a PNC! Always a soldier serving in the interest of defence and security in Guyana,” he said.
The Prime Minister, meanwhile, observed that 26 of the 31 opposition parliamentarians virtually boycotted Mr. Harmon who contributed to the debate remotely. Mr. Phillips expressed concern that Guyana’s political landscape was now suffering a void because there was no opposition leader. “Mr. Harmon resigned and we’re waiting for a leader and we’re waiting for a leader, still waiting. I’m disappointed, you’re disappointed, I am sure we are all disappointed because whoever is the new leader of the Opposition should have been delivering that speech instead of walking around and handing out placards…That is what you relegate your leader of the opposition to; we need your leader of the Opposition in this House doing the people’s work,” he said. PNCR Leader Norton has been visiting several villages in Georgetown, Demerara and Berbice.
In his contribution to the debate, Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh remarked that Mr. Harmon opted to debate the budget from a hidden room after Guyanese on March 2, 2020 and his PNCR membership rejected him from the leadership to avoid the “indignity” of a boycott by his own parliamentarians. “What a striking image it was, this lone figure standing all alone in a room by himself; a man who once bestrode Guyana like the de facto emperor,” he said.