‘I am not illegal’ – Harmon says will go to Parliament with other dual citizen MPs
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, a citizen of the United States, Friday denied that he was sitting illegally as a Member of Parliament (MP), despite rulings of the High Court and the Court of Appeal that those who hold dual citizenship are not qualified to be Parliamentarians.
“I am not illegal; I am not an illegal sitting,” said Harmon when questioned at a press conference at the Ministry of the Presidency.
Harmon denied that the Government was being duplicitous in picking and choosing what aspects of the two court rulings to abide by, though at the same time agreeing that the Court of Appeal dealt with “all matters” and that the Government will “abide by what the Court of Appeal says.”
In fact, the very press conference at which Harmon spoke was as a result of the Government resuming Cabinet meetings.
The Chief Justice had ruled that by virtue of the passage of the No Confidence motion on December 21, the Cabinet stood “resigned” and the Government ceased meeting and instead formed what it called a “Ministerial Plenary” that was carrying out all the functions of Cabinet.
When the Court of Appeal last Friday invalidated the passage of the motion on the grounds that an “absolute” majority of 34 Members in the 65-seat House did vote for the motion, the Government abided by that ruling and declared that it was “business as usual” and resumed the Cabinet meetings, the first of which was held last Tuesday.
The Court of Appeal upheld the Chief Justice’s ruling that dual citizens cannot sit in the House, but the Government has decided it will not abide by that ruling just yet, and is now appealing that aspect of the ruling at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
The Government has scheduled April 11 for a Parliamentary sitting and it is likely that Harmon, along with Vice President Carl Greenidge, another dual-citizen, will show up.
“…Cabinet has not made a ruling on it.
“In that regard, it is contemplated that on the 11th of April, when the National Assembly sits, all of the members on the Government side will be there,” Harmon stated.
“I see nothing duplicitous about it,” he added.
“Fact of the matter is that the Court of Appeal has dealt with the matter and the matter is now under appeal at the other level.
“In so far as we are concerned, the Court of Appeal has made a determination on all the matters before it, and so we will abide by what the Court of Appeal has said.
“If at the level of the CCJ these matters are dealt and they are definitively pronounced upon, then certainly we will abide by what the court says.”
In a robust defence of his own presence in the National Assembly and his refusal to resign or renounce his US citizenship, Harmon said, Parliamentarians sit as representatives of the people and the National Assembly as presently configured means that “you represent close to 5,500 persons.”
“…so you cannot on your own get up one day and say, ‘You know, I am not sitting here anymore.’ So all of these things have to be considered.
“I am a representative of a list,” Harmon stated.
He said he only became aware of the constitutional ban against dual citizens in the National Assembly “when the matters were filed in court.”