Calling Police to Guyana Parliament was Unjustified

Calling Police to Guyana Parliament was Unjustified

Calling for police to resolve a political issue in parliament was uncalled for. It smacks of criminality. The Speaker, Barton Scotland, pleads ignorance. He said he did not call the police. Who did? And why? Who will be accountable?

The Speaker is the boss in parliament. So if he did not call in the police, he needs to explain or find out who did. The Speaker also needs to find out how someone dressed as Santa Clause (we are told it is an assistant to a Minister) invaded the parliament. Why is this incident not probed? Seemingly the Speaker and the security were outwitted and outmaneuvered by a masked and hooded Santa from the government side. Or were they? No one was punished. What much of the public concluded was a sinister act. Since the Speaker does not seem to have control over the chamber, then he should do the honorable thing.

The latest convulsion in parliament began with an appeal or protest against the Speaker’s handling of allotted speaking time. Juan Edghill felt he should be given more time. The Speaker did not give him a hearing. A request for time turned into something much bigger — a challenge to the speaker’s authority. The Speaker overreacted. The Speaker’s response was unjustified. The response by the Speaker, government, and the police, all add to one more bleak entry in a catalog of parliamentary incompetence and condemnation. What the world saw was an act of bullyism. This was the most heavy-handed act carried out in parliament by government forces.

People across the country denounce the Speaker’s and police response to the fracas. The police had no business coming to parliament. No crime was committed. The matter should have been handled politically in the House by the leaders of both sides sitting with the Speaker and resolving it. Is the country turning into ‘a police state’ where the government uses ‘security apparatus’ to solve political disputes. It is indeed a sad day for the country when MPs, including women, can be pushed around and beaten by police.

During the melee, at least one female MP was assaulted by the police and can be heard screaming and seen crying. Others were also hurt – physically and emotionally as well. A recording of the scuffle reveal a female voice (from the government side or in the public gallery?) laughing boisterously and continued laughing minutes into the incident as the police used excessive force. That was no laughing matter. That female should be reprimanded. If she is a MP, she should be suspended. If a reporter, she should be banned from the gallery.

The police are condemned for starting the brawl; they have no business coming to parliament unless a crime was committed. As we now learn, they committed crimes by assaulting MPs. The police cannot violently eject MPs from the chamber. They have become a butt of public outrage and joke. “They can’t handle real criminals but can push around MPs”.

Deploying the police in parliament created a bad 'atmosphere' and sets a bad precedent. Democraticparliaments don’t function in that manner although we saw that recently in South Africa. It is a first for Guyana. People are saying this is yet another example of Guyana’s fledgling democracy turning into another dictatorship, barely 25 years old after the end of one party racist governance. The country should be on guard against authoritarian tendencies.