While the alleged assault on an Opposition Member of Parliament by a Government Minister occurred in an area that does not benefit from CCTV, Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon, is confident that eyewitness accounts will be sufficient to vindicate his subordinate.
Chaos erupted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) Wednesday afternoon, following the allegation that MP, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, was knocked to the head with a cellular phone by the Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Public Affairs, Kwame McCoy. The alleged incident caused a suspension of the sitting as the opposition shouted, “Kwame must go.”
Harmon, during a late-night presser, could not say who the eyewitnesses were, noting that the police are investigating the matter. Further grilled to say whether the eyewitnesses entailed both government and opposition MPs, Harmon refrained from disclosing the same. He said that “it does not matter who they are”; emphasising that a crime was committed.
He debunked assertions that the incident was a strategy to get a one-up on the government prior to the observance of International Women’s Day on March 8. Harmon said that it is absurd that sections of society would venture to accuse the Opposition of deploying a “strategy”, where one of its MPs would make such a serious allegation against a minister. He went on to say that such an assertion is an attempt to ‘trivialise” violence against women, and it must be rejected.
In relation to the cameras at the ACCC, Harmon noted that the matter has already been discussed with the building’s manager, who has given assurances that deficiencies will be resolved. He noted that this is the third incident to occur at the centre without cameras recording footage. The first was the disappearance of a computer belonging to Opposition MP, Catherine Hughes, and the subsequent disappearance of Opposition MP, Haimraj Rajkumar’s tablet.
Asked if the alleged incident will impact the Opposition’s involvement in the budget estimate considerations, Harmon said that will depend on the outcome of the investigation.
Meanwhile, Minister McCoy has denied assaulting Sarabo-Halley. See his full statement below:
“I, Warren Kwame McCoy, African male of 336 Section A, Diamond, EBD, age 45, make this statement in response to an allegation of assault made by Ms. Tabitha Sarabo-Halley against me today at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown.
I emphatically and completely deny that I assaulted Ms. Halley as she has alleged or at all. At no time did I touch Ms. Halley with my phone or any part of my body.
At the time in question, outside the Parliament Chamber, I had just completed a verbal exchange with Mr. Keith Lowenfield, who attended the Committee of Supply. After Mr. Lowenfield’s departure, I began to speak with Minister Anand Persaud. I observed the presence of Ms. Halley, who was approximately four feet away from me. We exchanged words, but there was absolutely no physical contact whatsoever. Minister Persaud was present with me at all material time.
Ms. Halley’s allegation is totally false, malicious and intended to cause me embarrassment and public ridicule. I am seeking the advice of my attorneys-at-law on the way forward. I urge the Guyana Police Force to fully investigate this matter and institute the necessary charges against Ms. Halley, and I am prepared to prosecute any charges vigorously. Additionally, I have observed certain libellous publications on social media by Ms. Halley of and concerning me, and I have advised my lawyers to take all requisite action.”