Gov’t to decide about sitting MPs with dual citizenship after court ruling
The governing coalition will address the implications of sitting Members of Parliament (MPs) holding dual citizenship after Chief Justice (ag), Chief Justice (ag) Roxanne George-Wiltshire issues a ruling in the case filed by private citizen, Compton Reid.
At a post-cabinet press briefing Friday, Minister of State Joseph Harmon, who also holds a US passport, told the media that “until the court has made its ruling, at which time I believe the Party of which I am a member, the partnership of which I am a member and the coalition of which I am a member, will make definitive statements on the matter.”
The Minister declined to comment on whether he relinquish his own US citizenship as a result of the ongoing controversy.
He also declined to comment on the citizenship status of his party members.
Reid on January 4, 2019, moved to the High Court seeking orders to set aside the No Confidence vote of December 21, 2018, on the grounds that the vote of former Government Parliamentarian, Charrandass Persaud was invalid because he holds a Canadian passport.
The respondents in the case are Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Barton Scotland, Charrandass Persaud and Attorney General Basil Williams.
The Chief Justice has since committed to granting a ruling on that matter and two others filed in relation to the vote of No-Confidence.
Persaud was a member of the smaller faction of the coalition, the Alliance For Change (AFC).
At a press conference on Wednesday, Chairman of the AFC, Khemraj Ramjattan declared he was not aware that Persaud held a Canadian passport.
General Secretary of the AFC, Marlon Williams affirmed that every member of its Candidates’ list prior to the 2015 General and Regional Elections were questioned about their citizenship and “it was only one person who said they were in good stead and we then discover they weren’t.”
Reading from a prepared statement, the party’s Vice Chair, Catherine Hughes said none of its sitting MPs has sworn allegiance to any foreign state except for MP and Business Minister, Dominic Gaskin.
She disclosed that Gaskin was born in the United Kingdom but is a citizen of Guyana by descent.
“The issue of renouncing citizenship does not apply to Guyanese who were born in another country,” she said.
Hughes said there was no system in place to prove Persaud’s citizenship since “it is private information.”
The Stabroek News had reported that in addition to Harmon, APNU’s Members, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine and Carl Greenidge and People’s Progressive Party’s MPs, Gail Teixeira, Odinga Lumumba and Adrian Anamyah are dual citizens.
The Constitution of Guyana is against sitting parliamentarians holding another country’s passport.
Article 155 of the Constitution states that “No person shall be qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly who is, by virtue of his or her own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.”