AFC wants dual citizenship requirement for MPs removed; says it’s a ‘disservice’ to Guyana

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The Alliance for Change (AFC) believes Article 155 of Guyana’s Constitution, which prohibits persons with dual citizenship from being Members of Parliament (MPs), should be removed.

Article 155 of the Constitution states: “No person shall be qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly who- (a) is by virtue of his or her own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.”

At a press conference on Wednesday at the AFC Railway Embankment office, the party’s leader, Raphael Trotman noted that “this article in the constitution is doing Guyana a disservice and therefore it needs to be amended.”

“Anyone who wishes to have a chance [to contribute to Guyana] should be given that chance,” he added.

Noting that Guyana is significantly affected by the brain drain, he further argued that “we cannot develop Guyana in the manner in which we wish to, in the pace in which we wish to if we close the door to the diaspora.”

As such, he said he believes that they have a right to be represented in the National Assembly.

Trotman told the media that he believes it is impossible for Guyana to be developed by the small group of people who remain in the country. He noted that the AFC has always stated publicly that it wishes to have diaspora representation not just in the National Assembly but also in Government.

The AFC will be pushing for an amendment to the provision.

The AFC has been at the forefront of the push for constitutional reform over the years and moreso, leading up to the 2015 General and Regional Elections.

In fact, AFC’s member, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo in 2017 tabled the draft legislation in the National Assembly for the establishment of a 15-member “constitutional reform consultative commission.”

There is no report on any progress since.

The party’s leader believes it will also get the support of the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) for the amendment since that party also has sitting MPs who are dual citizens.

Following the announcement by the Government on Tuesday that its MPs with dual citizenship will be resigning, the PPP has announced that its MPs with dual citizenship will also be tendering their resignation.

For years, persons with dual citizenship have been sitting as MPs. However, following the December 21, 2018, No-Confidence vote cast by AFC Member, Charrandass Persaud against the Government, a private citizen, Compton Reid moved to the courts to challenge the validity of the vote on the basis that Persaud is also a citizen of Canada and should not have been a Parliamentarian.

The High Court ruled in favour of Reid and this was upheld by the Appeal Court on March 22, causing the Government and Opposition to remove their MPs with dual citizenship.

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