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Drama in the National AssemblyThe recent sittings of the National Assembly were replete with contention, with singing attendees, and with a mystery female dressed as Santa Claus invading the hallowed chambers. Police were also called in on the Opposition Parliamentarians for what was, at worst, a violation of the Standing Orders.Opposition Leader Bharrat JagdeoAccording to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo during a recent press conference, this situation should have been handled differently by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland. Criticising the hand his party has consistently been dealt during the sitting, Jagdeo demanded that the Speaker act in an impartial manner.“I’m seeing this Speaker saying that the members of Parliament must ensure that their conduct is befitting of the title they hold; and he seems to forget that he must conduct himself befitting of the title he holds as speaker. The Speaker is supposed to be an impartial adjudicator in the National Assembly. The biggest quality of a Speaker, and one that makes him gain respect, is impartiality in the conduct of the affairs of the House. His conduct is not befitting of the title he holds.”According to the Opposition Leader, the Speaker’s partiality is evident, and blatantly so.“He rules against us on almost every single issue of merit. He doesn’t even allow us to make the argument. Just look at the adjournment motion which he ruled on the last time I tried to argue. Look at the motion to suspend Edghill. He refused to allow a debate on the motion. If someone puts up a motion on the Government side, then at least we should be able to argue it. He says no; sit down.”Jagdeo noted that while the Speaker has complained about the necessity of protecting the dignity of the House, he has in turn neglected to deal with several undignified incidents. One such incident Jagdeo referred to involve the Santa Claus who, in an attempt to disrupt proceedings, descended on the House during Jagdeo’s contribution to the budget debates.“Frankly speaking, personally, for me it wasn’t a big deal. But it is the fact that the Speaker refuses to pursue the (matter) because it was breaching the sanctity of the Parliament from an outsider! Not a member of the House. But I think his refusal to do so has a lot to do with what he was told by the executive.“Because they know who the person is! And I heard it is a minister’s secretary, and the person who (sneaked) her out of Parliament was the minister’s driver. So the Speaker is not interested in finding out who did it, this breach of Parliament. And he is worried about, and lectures us on, preserving the dignity of the House.”UnprecedentedZeroing in on the events leading up to, and after Police were called in to remove Opposition Parliamentarian Juan Edghill from the chambers, Jagdeo noted that the presence of Police in the National Assembly in such a capacity was unprecedented.“I made it clear that if Juan Edghill breached the Standing Orders and he refused to accept the Speaker’s ruling, there could be consequences for Juan Edghill. I pointed out that the Speaker suspended the sitting. He (Speaker) could have easily called the two Chief Whips and say, ‘This member has to leave, or else we’re not reconvening’.”“And the Chief Whip would have gone in and said to Edghill, ‘You’re in breach of the Speaker’s ruling, you have to leave’.“Notwithstanding that Juan Edghill may have broken the Standing Order, which happens every session, on both sides. People breach Standing Orders all the time, and I’ve seen some really horrible breaches. The issue is how this Speaker dealt with it,” Jagdeo explained.On December 11, Edghill’s attempts to extend his scrutiny of the Ministry of the Presidency’s budget estimates were met by the Speaker’s protestations and suspension of the sitting. An all-male Police team subsequently arrived and attempted to remove Edghill, but they were blocked by his colleagues, who formed a human ring around the Parliamentarian. A scuffle ensued, with Parliamentarians being assault by ranks of the Guyana Police Force.During a late night press conference after the dramatic events, the Speaker denied that he had called the Police or ordered the media out of the Parliament chambers. He claimed that he merely questioned the continued presence of media operatives after the sitting was suspended.He had also said there is no need for an investigation, since it is simply a matter of respecting the rules of the House. However, he did not address the issue of who had instructed the Police to enter the Parliament chambers.This remains a mystery, as acting Police Commissioner David Ramnarine and acting Crime Chief Paul Williams have both professed ignorance of who was responsible for the uniformed invasion of the House.