THE National Assembly, which is currently examining the 2021 National Budget Estimates, was forced into adjournment on Wednesday evening, following allegations of assault.
It was alleged that a Government Member of Parliament physically assaulted his colleague on the opposing side of the House, while they were on the corridors of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, which is being used as a temporary location for the National Assembly.
After concerns were raised by members of the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), the Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir, suspended the consideration of budget expenditures, at around 16:00hrs.
The Parliament was reconvened later in the evening for the Speaker to provide an update on the alleged incident.
He said that a meeting was convened to address the issue; the team included the Prime Minister, Brigadier ret’d Mark Phillips; the Government Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira; the Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon; the Opposition Chief Whip, Christopher Jones, along with the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs, the Speaker, Mr. Nadir, and members of the Guyana Police Force, including the ‘A’ Division Commander.
Following preliminary investigations, the security footage during the time of the incident was deemed unreliable; the police proceeded to take statements from a number of alleged witnesses.
Last night, Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister, Kwame McCoy, released to the press, a copy of the statement he provided to the police, in response to the allegation of assault made by Opposition Member of Parliament, Ms. Tabitha Sarabo-Halley.
“I emphatically and completely deny that I assaulted Ms. Halley as she has alleged. At no time did I touch Ms. Halley with my phone or any part of my body,” McCoy said.
Recalling the period that incident was alleged to have occurred, the minister said that he was outside the Parliament Chamber, having just engaged in a verbal exchange with Keith Lowenfield, Chief Elections Office, who was at the time, attending 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,” McCoy posited.
He maintained that “Halley’s allegation is totally false, malicious and intended to cause me embarrassment and public ridicule.”
McCoy said that he will be seeking the advice of his 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,” McCoy concluded.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Phillips was invited to move the motion to have the 26th Sitting of the Twelfth Parliament adjourned.
As a consequence, the National Assembly will resume 10:00hrs today, Thursday, March 4, 2021.