House Speaker, Manzoor Nadir is up in arms over claims that he is in league with the government to “oppress” Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) and ‘stymie’ the will of the people after he used a replica mace that allowed for the passage of the controversial Natural Resources Fund (NRF) bill 2021. The original mace had been forcibly removed by Opposition Members of Parliament in an in-house protest demonstration last month.
Notwithstanding the more than several missives of condemnation from many sections of civil society and groups labelling the action as an embarrassment, there are some who have opined that the removal of the mace – regarded as the “symbol of Parliament’s Authority” – was warranted. People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Leader, Aubrey Norton is one who shares those sentiments. He said yesterday that it was the Speaker’s proclivity to “side” with the government MPs that prompted the mace’s removal.
He, however, shied away from admitting he was “justifying” the actions of the Opposition MPs. He reasoned that “justification” is synonymous to sugarcoating wrongdoing and that nothing was wrong with MPs resorting to that action to stop a poorly conceived bill. He maintained that the government’s alterations to the bill gives the regime leeway to abuse oil and gas proceeds. Norton said that the Speaker is complicit in setting the ground to facilitate such transgressions.
But Nadir, in a recent missive to the media, said Norton’s comments are tantamount to bringing his speakership into disrepute.
The Speaker said that claims of bias come with the territory of the position, but he remains impartial.
“Speakers, from time immemorial, due to the nature of the work, that is, preserving order and decorum within the Assembly and disciplining members, among other things, have always been accused of biasness. This allegation is therefore expected. I wish to state, that as Speaker of the National Assembly, I have always conducted the business of the House in keeping with the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Guyana and other Parliamentary Procedures and Practices of the Commonwealth,” he said.
Nadir added that persons who are unfamiliar with Parliamentary Rules of Procedure would interpret the way he has been approving and disapproving questions and motions, and his rulings on certain matters, as bias.
He opined that the PNCR’s lamentation is an attempt to justify the “unparliamentary” behavior of the Members of Parliament who created grave disorder.
He further noted that the “gross disorderly conduct of some of the members during the last Sitting of the National Assembly will not be condoned”, adding that it is his duty as Speaker to ensure that the business of the National Assembly is conducted in a fair, transparent, and orderly manner.