As He Addresses Opening of 71st Sitting of the National Assembly
GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Members of the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), staged a protest in Parliament on Thursday, mainly to voice their dissatisfaction with the recent appointment of retired Justice James Patterson as the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
Waving placards with slogans such as “Free and Fair Elections”, “No More Rigging”, “Lies and More Lies” and “Not Fit and Proper” as they sat in Parliament, the opposition legislators heckled President David Granger as he made his presentation, at the opening of the 71st sitting of the National Assembly.
But despite the protests, the President continued with his address in which he outlined the government’s broad economic plan and legislative agenda for the future, while also focusing on achievements over the last year.
As the President addressed the House, Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland tapped his gavel several times to restore order, but the opposition refused to heed his appeal.
“Despite the lawlessness, the government will continue to push ahead with its development plan,” Granger said in his address.
He also made reference to various government sectors and international issues related to Guyana including the border controversy with Venezuela.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, in an interview the Department of Information (DPI) following the President’s address, expressed dissatisfaction with the Opposition’s behaviour in the National Assembly, noting that the Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, has brought himself down to a lower level.
He said that, “I think he (President David Granger) battled on today as a real soldier inspite of an unusual and unprecedented outburst of political hooliganism in the House. I think Mr. Jagdeo has attempted to turn the National Assembly into an arena of domestic terrorism thinking he could intimidate the President of the Republic of Guyana from delivering his charge to the National Assembly.”
The Prime Minister further argued, “To hide behind a slogan of rigged elections was infantile, but of course… personally, I didn’t expect any different from Bharrat Jagdeo and his political hordes in the National Assembly.”
Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes, described their behaviour as unproductive, “because the Parliament is supposed to be one place where we could have informed intelligent discussions and therefore to see it denigrated in such a manner… My distress is that the People of Guyana did not get to hear the content (President’s address) as clearly as they should have.”
Her sentiments were supported by Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock, who noted that, “If we are truly interested in the development of Guyana and the unification of this nation, then we need to put all of our efforts in building that confidence of our People. I think the Opposition had the opportunity to do that over the 23 years and at least they should have listened to the President instead of behaving in the gutter politics, we should now become more matured and realise we have a beautiful country to manage.”
Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes also shared her views on the Opposition’s display, noting that, “to demonstrate that kind of disrespect is an insult to themselves. I feel embarrassed for them, I know that the PPP are a wild bunch of people…but to come and demonstrate the level of wildness here…it’s horrible. It is the President we are talking about. The diplomatic corps know about Bharrat Jagdeo and his behaviour, but where’s the pride for us Guyanese?”
Among the diplomats that were present in the House were United States Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway; Canadian High Commissioner, Lilian Chatterjee; British High Commissioner, Greg Quinn and Mexican Ambassador, Ivan Roberto Sierra-Medel, who watched on in amusement.
The next sitting of the House is scheduled for November 17, 2017, when Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan is expected to present the 2018 National Budget.