Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton has denied claims that he threatened and upbraided his subordinate, Opposition Member of Parliament (MP), Jermaine Figueira for shaking the hand of President Dr Irfaan Ali during the Head of State’s recent visit to Linden, Region 10.
Norton’s denial came months after he, himself, refused to shake the hand of the President during a cultural event. He later said that he refused to shake hands with an “oppressor”, leading to a barrage of criticism from several sections of society. The Guyana Government has since branded Norton’s action as “immature” and unbecoming of an Opposition Leader, calling on him to prove that the administration is an oppressive one.
It said that Norton’s talk of oppression is baseless when it was the Ali-led administration that ordered numerous tax measure reversals since 2020. Those taxes were imposed by the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) government during 2015 and 2020. Norton now leads that party following the ousting of his predecessor, Joseph Harmon.
“Mr Figueira was not threatened with anything…Our Members of Parliament have the freedom to do what they think is within the broad confines of our policy. At the policy level, as Leader of the Opposition, I took a decision that I will not shake the President’s hand because he is responsible for the oppression of our people. Mr Figueira was never given instruction not to shake the President’s hand. If I were to give Mr Figueira instructions, let me tell you what the instructions would be: ‘come out with pickets with all the discrimination against Linden and greet President Ali with them’. That would have been my instruction,” Norton said.