… Party notes ominous plans to disrupt proceedings
People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Chief Whip Gail Teixeira has written Police Commissioner Leslie James about the safety of the Party’s Members of Parliament in light of threats to disrupt the proceedings.
In the letter sent to the Police Commissioner, the Chief Whip noted that the Party has received information that there would be an attempt to prevent the members of the parliamentary Opposition from entering the compound of the Parliament Building on Friday, December 21, 2018. December 21 is the day set for the debate on the parliamentary Opposition’s motion of no confidence.
“I, on behalf of the Parliamentary Opposition, wish to bring to your attention a matter of serious proportions relating to public safety and the security of the National Assembly, the Parliament Buildings and all Guyanese citizens,” Teixeira said in the letter seen by Guyana Times.
She added that the Party’s information pointed to some very “ominous plans to physically disrupt the sitting by either invading the Chambers, and/or creating disruption within the Chambers. The intention is to interrupt the debate and the vote on the No Confidence Motion”.
Further, the Party stated that these plans included preventing members of the parliamentary Opposition from exiting the compound of the Parliament Building at the conclusion of the sitting as well as threatening the safety of citizens going about their business beyond the precincts of the Parliament Building.
“We, therefore, call on you to take the necessary interventions to ensure that the rule of law prevails and not only the sitting of the National Assembly on December 21, 2018 will be allowed to proceed peacefully, but also the safety of citizens beyond the precincts of the Parliament Buildings, and property, life and limb will be protected from any efforts to create violence and mayhem,” Teixeira said.
She added that the PPP/C remained confident that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) would uphold the law and manage any threats to the safety of the members of the National Assembly, the Parliament Building, and the citizens. Teixeira added that the information was also sent to Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland.
Strategic political move
On Tuesday, the PPP/C had accused the coalition Government of attempting to tamper with the process leading up to the vote on the no-confidence motion.
One of its MPs, Harry Gill, was summoned to appear before a Magistrate at the Fort Wellington Magistrate’s Court to answer a charge of assault allegedly committed against former Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) Councillor and People’s National Congress (PNC) activist Carol Smith Joseph.
According to the Party, it believes this may be a deliberate act to detain one of its MPs in an attempt to reduce its numbers in Parliament on Friday to ensure the failure of the no-confidence vote. The arty in a statement added that this could be a strategic political move.
According to the PPP/C, Gill was allegedly viciously assaulted with a chain by Joseph in the presence of a Police Inspector and Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Supervisor Clearmont Mingo while he (Gill) was recording Joseph’s behaviour, which was hostile.
The Party said although this alleged assault was witnessed by a senior Police Officer who admitted on video that he “observed” the assault, Joseph was neither arrested nor charged.
“It is instructive to note that it is Harry Gill, who, a few minutes after, made a report of this assault to the Fort Wellington Police Station upon the advice of the senior Police Officer, Inspector Rose and requested that the matter be investigated. It now turns out that the Complainant, MP Harry Gill, is the one being charged,” the Opposition Party observed.
While maintaining that the charge is completely without any basis, the PPP/C has since called upon the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to immediately intervene and terminate what it described as a “baseless charge” against Gill.Meanwhile, on Monday, Opposition Leader and PPP General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo called for the authorities and the National Assembly to implement measures that would protect MPs and ensure that Friday’s no-confidence vote could go forward unhindered.
The Opposition Leader expressed fears that there may be attempts to disrupt the vote by persons in the gallery. According to him, it only takes one crossover vote or two abstentions from the Government side for them to win. He said that because of this precarious margin and certain information his party has received, they were apprehensive.
Jagdeo expressed hope that the diplomatic community would bear witness to the proceedings, whichever way the vote turned out.
Jagdeo had first announced the no-confidence motion on November 15, 2018, on the heels of devastating losses in the Local Government Elections (LGE) for the coalition Government.
The next day, the scheduled sitting of the National Assembly was abruptly cancelled at Government’s request and the Opposition turned up to an empty chamber. In the half-empty Parliament Chambers, Jagdeo reiterated some of his expectations regarding the motion.