Speaker adjourns budget debate amid opposition protest for Manickchand apology

House Speaker Raphael Trotman was forced to prematurely adjourn the budget debate yesterday after APNU parliamentarians created a ruckus to prevent Minister of Education Priya Manickchand from speaking as they demanded an apology over remarks she made in reference to the father of former member Jaipaul Sharma.

Members of Parliament (MPs) of the main coalition banged on their desks as Manickchand rose to make her contribution to the debate. “Apology to Sharma! Apology to Sharma” the members chanted even as Trotman kept calling for order in the house. AFC MPs had also staged a walkout when Trotman announced it was time for the Minister to make her contribution.

Trotman was forced to suspend the sitting for close to an hour after which he returned and said that there “was no narrowing of the issue.”

“I met with the Chief Whips of the two parties and Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs to see if the issues of one side of the house can be known and if known dealt with. At the end of it, it was reported by the opposition Chief Whip and confirmed by the government Chief Whip that there has been no narrowing of the issue…This protest is as much as it is against the chair as it is against the minister,” he explained.

He invited the minister to speak twice and each time the MPs prevented her from speaking. In the end, he said that the sitting would be adjourned for Monday afternoon. “Apology for what? Sharma get charge with rape,” Attorney General Anil Nandlall shouted as the sitting was adjourned. PPP/C Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, meanwhile, also sought to move a motion that Manickchand be allowed to speak.  “Everyone stand,” Teixeira said and her government colleagues followed suit.

CN Sharma is before the court on statutory rape charges and during the debate on Tuesday, while APNU MP Volda Lawrence was explaining that more needed to be done to assist young women who were victims of sexual assault, including statutory rape, Manickchand suggested that she ask APNU member Sharma. The Speaker had banned her from participating in the debate for not apologising to the younger Sharma but he subsequently rescinded the ban after saying he found that her remarks were directed at the senior Sharma and not the member in the House. The younger Sharma has since resigned from the National Assembly over the insult.

At an emergency press conference immediately after the adjournment, Manickchand said it was rather unfortunate that things had gotten to this stage. “Heckles happen all the time in every Parliament…I could not have expected that one line with seven words would attract so much attention from anyone,” she said. “…I said that I was not speaking or referring to Jaipaul Sharma or any member of the house…If you listen to the recording you won’t even really hear me,” she added.

The younger Sharma, who ‎demanded an apology from the minister after her comment on Tuesday, told reporters after he had announced his resignation that he felt the PPP/C would use the issue involving his father to damage the main opposition coalition.

There were two speakers left to present last evening, APNU MP James Bond and PPP/C Member Manzoor Nadir. The debate is to continue on Monday.

Latest in Local News

The ambassadors group with UG Vice Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith (seated fifth from left)

UG needs emergency $$ to prevent collapse

A conference of local and diaspora stakeholders of the University of Guyana (UG) has called on the government to provide emergency funding to the institution to reverse its “imminent collapse”.

Sattaur Gafoor in the temporary office which was set up after the fire

Gafoor’s, insurers in ‘stalemate’ over Houston Complex repairs

There is a “stalemate” between Gafoors and its insurance underwriters over how to proceed on a building that was damaged in the massive fire at the company’s Houston Complex last month but some reconstruction has started.


Duo stole over $31M in electronics from Digicel

Two men were yesterday charged with stealing over $31 million in electronics belonging to Digicel Guyana Incorporated. Albert De Freitas, 27, and Basdeo Sackoon, 26, appeared before city magistrate Dylon Bess charged with stealing a total of $31,107,510 in items from the telecoms company.

default placeholder

Driver gets one year in jail for causing boy’s death

A man was yesterday sentenced to one year in jail after being found guilty of three offences, including causing the death of an 11-year-old child by dangerous driving.

default placeholder

Gov’t support for city’s financial measures to hinge on transparency, public interest

President David Granger on Monday said that central government’s support for the city’s measures to make itself financial sustainable would rest on transparency and the public’s interest.

default placeholder

Man arrested over ISIS bomb threat at city bank

A man was yesterday morning arrested after he entered a city bank and demanded $10M under the name of Islamic State (ISIS) before threatening to explode a bomb that he claimed he had on him.

default placeholder

‘What’s in the cup, stays in the cup’

People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary Clement Rohee says “What’s in the cup stays in the cup,” in response to a question on whether the matter involving PPP/C Member of Parliament (MP), Nigel Dharamlall over threats he allegedly made, has been explained to the party’s satisfaction.

Carlton Beckles

Lethem Council sees agro-processing focus for Industrial Site 

The first municipal council of Lethem, Region Nine sees agro-processing as a key focus for the Lethem Industrial Site. Mayor of the recently commissioned township of Lethem, Carlton Beckles told GINA that the completion of the industrial area, with an emphasis on agro-processing is among priorities that the council has set to accomplish before it demits office.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: