‘Attempted theft of Speaker’s Mace was a treacherous act’ – Governance Minister

Calls for ‘grabbers’ to be “seriously dealt with”

Following sheer disorder at the hands of the APNU+AFC Opposition in the National Assembly on Wednesday night, Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs, Gail Teixeira, M.P., has vehemently condemned the Opposition’s attempts to steal the Speaker’s Mace. The Minister has labelled this attempt as a “treacherous act”.

This heinous performance occurred as the Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, M.P., opened the debate on the Natural Resource Fund Bill (NRF) 2021 on Wednesday night. In an effort derail the debating and passing of the NRF Bill, the Opposition hijacked the sitting, while one of its MP, Annette Ferguson, attempted to seize this ceremonial symbol. Other Opposition MPs attempted to do the same too, in the presence of the entire National Assembly.

Parliamentary staffers surround the Speaker of the House, Manzoor Nadir M.P. following Opposition MP Anette Ferguson’s attempt to steal the Speaker’s Mace

“We mustn’t take lightly what happened to the Mace. Many people think that it is ceremonial, and it is, but the Mace is the authority of the legislature. Any attempt to remove it, is therefore an attempt to undermine, to overthrow the authority of the National Assembly,” Minister Teixeira said in a press conference held on Thursday afternoon.

The Minister went on to express her disappointment over the chaotic events, which ensued during the passing of two historic Bills – the NRF Bill and the Local Content Bill. These two essential legislative mechanisms would secure benefits, opportunities and development for Guyana from the country’s oil and gas sector.

Government and Opposition MPs as they surrounded the Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance Dr. Ashni Singh M.P. during his presentation on the Natural Resource Fund Bill 2021

“We are taking a quantum step forward, and at the same time we are recovering from, or responding to what has been, I think, one of the most tragic events in the parliament.”

The long-standing Member of Parliament went on to label the actions of the Opposition on the night in question as “terrorist tactics”, and linked this to the destabilising of all connection in the assembly.

Opposition MPs protest in the well of the National Assembly

Further to this, Speaker of the House, Manzoor Nadir M.P. in a press conference on Thursday, shared that Opposition MPs ambushed the control room of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) and wildly unplugged the connections in the electrical systems room. This led to an internet disconnection and audio failures. MPs who had joined processions virtually were even disconnected from the feed as a consequence of this.

Against this, Minister Teixeira indicated that the events that enfolded in the dome were “pre-planned, organised, [and] orchestrated” prior to the sitting.

A group of Opposition MPs casually-seated in-front of the Speaker of the House’s station in the dome of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre

“We are ashamed that the parliamentary opposition would defile the sanctity of an institution and the highest lawmaking forum in Guyana. This level of restraint shows the level of leadership in the PPP/C, and the fact that we were not able to be provoked into what we knew was one of their objectives,” the Governance Minister related.

Minister Teixeira has since called for the ‘mace grabbers’ to be “seriously dealt with”. This can mean charges laid against them in or out of Parliament, she said. The Speaker of the House has since reprimanded the Opposition for its “terrorist-like behaviour” and has maintained that the NRF Bill has been properly and lawfully passed.

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