Nadir condemns PNCR’s attempt to bring disrepute to his speakership of National Assembly

Speaker of the National Assembly Manzoor Nadir has called out the People’s National Congress Reform for attempting to bring his speakership into disrepute, saying that the party is attempting to justify the “unparliamentary behaviour” of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Members of Parliament (MPs) last month.
At a press conference on Friday, the newly elected Leader of the PNCR, Aubrey Norton, accused the Speaker of being biased and of colluding with the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government.

Speaker of the National
Assembly, Manzoor Nadir

In response, however, Nadir condemned Norton’s attack while pointing out that such accusations were expected since Speakers, due to the nature of the work, that is, preserving order and decorum within the Assembly and disciplining members, among other things, have always been accused of being biased.
Nadir contended that he has always conducted the business of the House in keeping with the Standing Orders of Parliament and other parliamentary procedures and practices of the Commonwealth.
“Further, it is my duty as Speaker of the National Assembly to ensure that the business of the National Assembly is conducted in a fair, transparent, and orderly manner and this I will do until the end of my tenure,” he asserted.
Moreover, the Speaker went on to outline that the utterances by the Leader of the PNCR, which the leading party in the APNU faction of the coalition Opposition, was a weak attempt to justify the actions of its Members of Parliament who created “grave disorder” during the December 29, 2021 sitting of the National Assembly in order to block the passage of the Natural Resource Fund Bill.
According to Nadir, the “gross disorderly conduct” of the Opposition members will not be condoned. He had previously said at a press conference the day after the uproar in the National Assembly that the Opposition’s actions will not go unpunished.

PNCR Leader Aubrey Norton

However, when contacted on Thursday, the Speaker would not confirm whether a decision was made on what method would be used to sanction those Opposition MPs who not only created havoc in the House by protesting with placards and using whistles to disrupt the Government members’ presentations but also stole the symbolic Parliament Mace from in front of the Speaker.
Nevertheless, Governance and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Gail Teixeira has called on the Speaker to “move swiftly” in punishing the Opposition parliamentarians.
“The Speaker has a tremendously responsibility because it is very clear that they have no respect for him as Speaker; no respect for the authority of him as Speaker nor of the Parliament at all. If this is not addressed in some serious manner where the persons involved recognise how serious their transgressions were… and if they don’t [get punished] and if the punishment is not serious enough, then Parliament will become just chaotic over and over again,” she posited.
<<<Guyana Times>>> understands that the Speaker is looking at precedents from other Parliaments, where similar incidents have occurred, in coming up with a decision.
But during a telephone interview with this publication, Minister Teixeira, who is also Government’s Chief Whip in the National Assembly, indicated that the Speaker also has options from Guyana’s Parliament that he can consider including the 2003 incident involving then People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Opposition Members, who were sent to the Privileges Committee for protesting with placards in the Parliament Chamber, and even those involving People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) members.
In fact, she pointed to the 2017 incident when the then PPP/C Opposition was questioning Budget allocations under the APNU/AFC regime during which Bishop Juan Edghill was suspended for four sittings after he refused an order by then Speaker Dr Barton Scotland to leave the Chambers on December 11 of that year.
“So, [Edghill] was suspended and could not come into the precincts of the Parliament for any committee meetings or sittings, and could not receive any salary, benefits etc for that period,” she recalled.
According to the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, in addition to that option, Nadir can also look at the January 1991 incident whereby a PPP/C Opposition Parliamentarian, Isahak Basir, was expelled from Parliament after he picked up the Mace and then threw a glass of water at the Speaker at the time, Sase Narain.
“So, the Speaker has a number of options open to him,” the Government Chief Whip argued.