Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman said that he deferred last Monday’s meeting of the Committee of Privileges of the National Assembly – meant to address whether embattled Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee could speak in the National Assemby – yielding to the wishes of APNU and the PPP/C with regard to the unsuitability of proceeding with the meeting.
“First of all, meetings of the Privileges Committee are in camera,” he said, an indication that he is not at liberty to reveal details of the meeting. “I convened the meeting because I believed we had received a ruling from the Chief Justice based on an opinion and I thought I would convene the meeting to ascertain what the powers of the Assembly are. I had received information from the House of Commons in the UK and the House of Representatives in Australia,” he said.
“[When the meeting commenced], I made an opening statement in which I stated that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss what are the powers of the Assembly in light of the court order and not meant to interfere with the decision of the Chief Justice or Rohee’s right to speak,” he said.
However, he said that APNU wanted to wait until the outcome of the court matter before proceeding with the meeting. This was also the feeling of Attorney General Anil Nandlall who said that since the matter was extant, the meeting should be put off.
“The two sides said that they preferred to wait and so I deferred to them. The matter is now sine die (put down indefinitely) in the committee,” he said.
On January 15, Trotman had said acting Chief Justice Ian Chang’s ruling on the move to gag Home Minister Clement Rohee is not binding on him or the National Assembly. He said that he would be filing proceedings to further clarify the court’s authority over the legislature.
On Friday January 11, Justice Chang found that Rohee as an elected member has a right to speak in the National Assembly. However, his ruling appeared to leave the question of his speaking to the Speaker of the National Assembly and the procedures of the House.
Trotman had made it clear that Rohee is not the subject of any proceeding before the Committee. Trotman said that being a member of the committee, Rohee was expected to appear and be part of the Committee’s work and participate if he so desires. Rohee subsequently tendered his resignation from the Privileges Committee.