The Opposition is holding firm to its position that the Natural Resource Fund Bill could not have been legally passed in the National Assembly since the Mace was not in its place when the Speaker called for a vote on the controversial legislation during last evening’s sitting.
The Mace was grabbed from its position by Opposition Member of Parliament Annette Ferguson and ended up outside of the Parliamentary Chambers, eventually in the custody of the Speaker’s Personal Assistant.
During a press conference this morning, the Speaker admitted that the official Mace was not in its place when the Bill was put to a vote. He said it was a replica that was used for the passage of the Bill.
In a statement this afternoon, Opposition Leader Joe Harmon said a miniature replica Mace cannot be used to conduct the business of the National Assembly. That Mace was reportedly made for exhibition purposes and the National Youth Parliament.
“The Speaker’s statement that Guyana has two Maces is appalling and simply untrue. The replica referred to by the Speaker is a miniature Mace which was made for the hosting of Guyana’s National Youth Parliament and holds no authority in the sitting of the National Assembly. Further, there is no rule that provides for the use of a replica Mace in the National Assembly as being touted by the Speaker. The speaker cannot simply decide to pick up something and replace the official Mace of the National Assembly when the rules clearly state that if the Mace is not in the House absolutely no business can be done, again I say there is no provision for use of a replica or substitute Mace”, Mr. Harmon said.
The Opposition Leader also denied that there was any attempt by the Speaker to meet with the two Chief Whips after the initial brief suspension of the sitting.
According to Mr. Harmon, “the Speaker would want the nation to believe that he followed the parliamentary process in his handling of the proceedings since he indicated to the media that he consulted with the Chief Whip but got no response. Let it be known that no attempt was made after the suspension of the sitting to have a dialogue with the Chief Whip on the opposition side. In fact, the Speaker went and met with members on the Government side and crafted their plan to come back into the House and force the passage of the bill”.
The APNU+AFC Opposition maintains that the controversial Bill was not legally passed.