Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton says the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition chose to boycott Monday’s sitting of the National Assembly because, in their eyes, “it made no sense to go” given that eight of their members were suspended for ‘disorderly conduct and collective vulgarity.’
According to Norton, they realised that their votes would be practically pointless as eight of their MPs were already absent and also had to stand in “solidarity” with their suspended members.
Those suspended are Annette Ferguson, Christopher Jones, Ganesh Mahipaul, Vinceroy Jordan, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, Sherod Duncan, Maureen Philadelphia, and Natasha Singh-Lewis.
“We believe that it would have been an act to legitimise the illegal suspension of members of the opposition if we had attended because one, we have challenged the matter in court, and every child knows that if people didn’t get a hearing, then there is a violation of a rule of natural justice and so there was no way we were going to go,” he told a press conference on Tuesday.
He continued, “We had to be in solidarity with the members of parliament who they have arbitrally gotten rid of.”
The Opposition Leader added that the denial of the cost-of-living motion by the Speaker of the National Assembly was another reason they did not attend.
When asked whether the Opposition will attend the next parliamentary sitting slated for October, he noted this would be based on whether “parliamentary democracy” is upheld.
“We will selectively make it clear that the Parliament is a charade, the Parliament does not perform the function is should perform, and there will be ways and means of identifying that to the public; one way to do that is by boycott of Parliament. That is by no mean a decision that says we will boycott every Parliament.”
While Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira had said that the Opposition’s absence would not affect the agenda for the sitting, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, had urged them to show up.
Dr Singh wanted them to show up to add their voices to the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030, among others.
Notwithstanding the Opposition’s absence, the LCDS 2030 motion was passed along with a $44.7 billion supplementary budget.