The Opposition MPs were supported by scores of APNU/AFC supporters who today gathered outside the Arthur Chung Convention centre where Guyana’s parliament is being held, chanting “Kwame must go,” in reference to Public Affairs Minister Kwame Mc Coy, who yesterday allegedly struck opposition Member of Parliament Tabitha Sarabo-Halley in the face with a cell phone.
While McCoy admitted to engaging in an altercation with Chief Elections Officer (CEO), and later approaching Sarabo-Halley, he denied touching her.
A statement carried by Demerara Waves from the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) whose former Chairman was Ms. Sarabo-Halley, says that “Ms. Sarabo was in conversation with Chief Election Officer, Keith Lowenfield when McCoy thrusted his phone in her face. After she protested, he proceeded to hit her in the face. After speaking with Ms. Sarabo and other onlookers, WPA is satisfied that she did not provoke the encounter—it was initiated and escalated by McCoy.”
When parliament convened this morning, Opposition Chief Whip Christopher Jones asked the speaker that “In light of the incident that occurred on Wednesday, which involved Member of Parliament Tabitha Sarabo-Halley and Mr. Kwame McCoy, the APNU+AFC is requesting that Mr. Kwame McCoy be removed from the precincts of the National Assembly in order for us to proceed with these estimates.”
The speaker told him that he has no power to order McCoy to leave the House without a motion debated and passed in accordance. However, Jones reinforce his point that “ the female Members of Parliament of the APNU+AFC are uncomfortable with Mr. Kwame McCoy’s presence and, as I mentioned before sir, we will not proceed with the consideration of these estimates unless Mr. McCoy is removed from the precincts of the Parliament.”
Speaker Nadir retorted that he could “not order or tell any Member how to conduct themselves within the confines of the Standing Order…...however, your point is noted.”
Not satisfied with the Speaker's resp[onse, the opposition members stood and proceeded to bang on their desks in protest to the Speaker and chanting “Kwame must go!” resulting in a suspension of the sitting.
The Working People Alliance (WPA) of which Sarabo-Halley is a former chairman, condemned the incident as a “cowardly act” by a male Parliamentarian and said it should not be tolerated in Guyana especially by someone entrusted with power. “The Opposition members should not sit in the Assembly with this person.”
"McCoy’s action cannot be divorced from the quality of governance the country has witnessed since the PPP came to power. We are of the firm view that the thuggish form of governance displayed by the PPP has set the stage for this kind of behavior from the member,”the WPA added.
Fellow opposition parliamentarian, Amanza Walton recalled seeing Ms. Sarabo-Halley shortly after the incident. “I can say that I witnessed a very shaken and distraught individual,” said Ms. Walton-Desir, an Attorney-at-Law by profession.
On Wednesday evening, Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon said that all APNU+AFC Opposition MPs have decided to make “certain demands” given that an apology from McCoy will not be adequate. He said the MPs would also decide whether the incident and its resolution will affect their participation in the ongoing consideration of Budget 2021 estimates.
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