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House ends in uproar as new proclamation tabled

Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie yesterday ordered guards to escort Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin out of the House of Assembly after a screaming match erupted when the government abruptly moved to suspend proceedings.

The drama unfolded a day after a government blunder that saw the previous state of emergency, which allowed for numerous regulations to reportedly prevent the spread of COVID-19, end unintentionally.

The meeting was suspended only minutes after it began, shortly after the prime minister tabled a proclamation of emergency from the governor general that saw the new state of emergency start on Tuesday.

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis rose to speak after the prime minster, but Moultrie would not acknowledge him, and instead let Leader of Government Business in the House Reward Wells move for the House to be suspended until Monday.

The move prompted an outburst from the opposition.

Hanna-Martin hurled insults at the government from her chair, with Davis also shouting across the floor as numerous government members shot back.

Moultrie condemned Hanna-Martin for her comments, ordering her to withdraw from Parliament.

When Hanna-Martin refused, Moultrie called guards to have her physically removed from the House.

Hanna-Martin still did not budge as the guards remained at the entry to the floor for reasons that were unclear.

Moultrie then called for the approval of the House to suspend, which was given as members continued to shout at each other.

It was the culmination of a tumultuous 24 hours of governance.

On Monday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis gave notice that at the next sitting of Parliament, which was yesterday, he intended to move a resolution to continue the COVID-19 emergency order to the end of July.

But the emergency order became void at the end of the day Monday, creating a quandary for the government.

A proclamation of a new state of emergency came from the governor general Monday evening, not long after Attorney General Carl Bethel took “full ministerial responsibility” for what he called an “oversight” in not having the resolution to extend the state of emergency ready in time.

The attorney general and the Free National Movement blamed the PLP, claiming the opposition did not agree to have the resolution debated and passed Monday, outside the normally required 24-hour period of notice.

However, the governing side did not ask the assent of the opposition in the House.

And in a voice note purportedly from Leader of Government Business Renward Wells to Leader of Opposition Business Picewell Forbes that made the rounds on social media Tuesday, Wells tells Forbes the government had decided to table the resolution on Monday and debate it the following day.

After the House ended yesterday, Davis said the opposition had planned on addressing claims that its members were at fault in any way.

“Chairman [Fred] Mitchell corrected [Attorney General] Carl Bethel in the Senate saying what the truth was,” Davis said.

“And…we issued a written commentary in response to what Carl Bethel had to say. And, yet, still today their chairman issued a statement blaming us for the mess up. And it was all solely their decision. We had no part in the decision that they took.”

Davis said it was clear that the opposition was not in any way responsible for the lapse of the state of emergency, and claimed the decision of the government to suspend the House early was an attempt to evade the truth.

“I wanted to put on the record at Parliament this continued obsession with blaming the PLP,” he said.

Davis added, “At the very least if they were suspending the House, they should have let us have something to say about where we are and get an understanding of where they wish to carry us.”

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis briefly addressed the matter in the House yesterday, using the opportunity to emphasize that the emergency COVID-19 orders are still in place and there was no lapse in continuity of the state of emergency and the emergency orders.

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