– as MP summoned to court to face assault charge
The political Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has accused the coalition Government of attempting to tamper with the process leading up to the vote on the No-Confidence Motion that is scheduled to be debated in the National Assembly on Friday.
A Member of Parliament (MP) for the Opposition, 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 Councillor and People’s National Congress (PNC) activist Carol Smith Joseph.
“We believe this may be a deliberate act to detain one of our MPs as an attempt to reduce our numbers in Parliament on Friday to ensure the failure of the no-confidence vote,” the Party said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that this could be a strategic political move.
According to the PPP, Gill was allegedly viciously assaulted with a chain by Joseph in the presence of a Police Inspector and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Supervisor, Clearmont Mingo, while he (Gill) was recording Joseph’s tantrum 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 has since called upon the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to immediately intervene and terminate what they described as a “baseless charge” against Gill. “…lest that office continues to bear the public perception that it is infected by politics and politicians,” it added.
It was only Monday that Opposition Leader and General Secretary of the PPP, Bharrat Jagdeo calling for the authorities and the National Assembly to implement measures that will protect MPs and ensure that Friday’s no-confidence vote can 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 theorised that they may be hoping that should the vote be disrupted, the vote will be invalidated. He made it clear that his party would notify Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland. “We will bring this to the attention of the Speaker,” he stated.
“When the Clerk of the National Assembly calls the names of the Members of Parliament and should one of their members vote (in favour), no matter what happens afterwards, the vote is passed … because if you allow disruptions, you can never have (a non-contentious vote). So, if the Speaker allows (the vote to be invalidated), we will deem that an act of collusion.”
Jagdeo expressed hope that the diplomatic community would bear witness to the proceedings, whichever way the vote turned out. Noting that the proceedings were being recorded, he warned that attempts to disrupt the vote would be publicised around the world. Jagdeo also spoke of threats and related that they would write to the Police Commissioner.
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. At the half-empty Parliament Chambers, Jagdeo reiterated some of his expectations regarding the motion.
In a subsequent advertisement, the PPP went into further detail on its reasons for filing the motion, and the concrete reasons for the people’s rejection of the People’s National Congress (PNC)-led coalition. It pointed to the thousands of jobs that have been lost as a result of the closure of Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) estates.
In addition, the Party referred to the many scandals that have erupted under the (PNC)-led Administration. They include the single sourcing of the feasibility contract for the new Demerara River crossing, the single sourcing of a drug bond and the single sourcing of drug procurement contracts.
The Party noted the numerous breaches of fiscal laws flagged by the Audit Office of Guyana in its reports, as well as the lack of accountability in the D’Urban Park Project; something even the Auditor General had to launch a special probe into. The depletion of Guyana’s gold and foreign reserves was also highlighted, among other pressing issues facing the nation.