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Opposition leader removed from parliament

Opposition leader Dr. Hubert Minnis being removed from parliament.

Opposition leader Dr. Hubert Minnis being removed from parliament.

NASSAU — The House of Assembly’s morning session was halted yesterday when police officers, including two assistant commissioners, filed on to the chamber’s floor to forcibly remove Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Hubert Minnis, from the premises after Speaker Dr. Kendal Major suspended him for two sittings.

This came after the Killarney MP and Free National Movement leader refused to withdraw comments he made in mid-July in the House about Prime Minister Perry Christie’s relationship with fashion designer Peter Nygard despite repeated orders from Major to do so.

After he was ordered out of the House, Minnis remained defiant and stayed in his seat.

The officers got into confrontations with several FNM MPs who tried to block access to Minnis.

Three uniformed officers grabbed Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn by his arms and moved him away from where he stood in order to gain access to Minnis. A scuffle ensued as two officers tried to move around Lightbourn — who stood firm — in order to reach Minnis.

Two other officers grabbed Central Grand Bahama MP Neko Grant as they tried to get close to Minnis too.

This prompted an outcry from FNM Deputy Leader and Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner, who told police not to touch any opposition member.

“Don’t put your hand on me or him. We will leave,” she said. “You all move. Don’t put your hand on any of us.”

At one point Minnis dared the officers to move him.

“See my tie. Drag me over. Pull me over,” he said to the officers, gesturing with his necktie.

Assistant Commissioners of Police Leon Bethell and Stephen Seymour were among the group of officers who filed into the House to escort Minnis outside.

Seven FNM MPs, with the exception of Central and South Abaco MP Edison Key, later left the debating chamber. However, the MPs clashed with police a second time when they tried to converge in the House Minority Room.

Minnis held an impromptu press conference on the steps of the House flanked by the MPs who followed him out of the House and dozens of party supporters.

Minnis said the speaker’s actions were an affront to democracy. He added that he stood behind the statement he made about the prime minister and Nygard last month. (Nassau Guardian)

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