The process to set up the Electoral College was marked with claims of muted mics, heavy desk thumping and numerous interruptions by the members of the Opposition. Dressed in all black, the entire Opposition bench agreed that they were mourning the “death of democracy”.
According to the agenda, the process was set to begin at 10.30 and end within the hour, but constant outbursts by members of the Opposition bench first led House Speaker Brigid Annisette-George to suspend proceedings for 15 minutes. When the group reconvened, it was more of the same.
The Speaker tried to talk over the Opposition as even standing on her feet did not signal the call for silence as it normally does. At one point three Opposition members were speaking on their feet at the same time, each manually switching their mics on to speak over each other. They all demanded the same thing, that Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s motion to remove the President be read into Hansard.
Annisette-George held her ground and even as Persad-Bissessar took the dais, she was cut off from reading out the motion. This caused both St Augustine MP Khadija Ameen and Rodney Charles to launch a verbal campaign to get their leader to finish her speech. The Speaker held her ground and by midday, announced the House of Representatives was adjourned and the Electoral College would begin its meeting.
During the commotion, the Government bench was noticeably silent, none of the usual crosstalk or picong, almost as if there was an agreement to remain quiet while the Opposition bench erupted. By noon, Senators from the Lower House filed in the Chamber while the Opposition left to meet outside the Chamber.
Reporter: Renuka Singh