Four new Gov’t MPs to be sworn in Friday
Four new Parliamentarians will take the oath of office at Friday’s sitting of the National Assembly, government Chief Whip Amna Ally has confirmed to the News Room.
The names have not yet been released, but Ally said President David Granger could make the announcement before Friday’s sitting. The President also has to say who will take up the ministerial portfolios of State, Foreign Affairs, Business and Public Service.
The President had earlier this month said he accepted the resignations of four of his Government ministers who possessed dual citizenship and were therefore not legally seated in the National Assembly in accordance with recent rulings of the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
Those ministers are Joseph Harmon, Dominic Gaskin, Dr Rupert Roopnarine and Carl Greenidge.
According to the President, the four will no longer be ministers once the process for their removal from the National Assembly is complete.
The Government had said that the four ministers will take up other positions in the Government but the President has not yet announced what those roles will be.
Three Parliamentarians from the Opposition benches will also resign from the House, but the party has not chosen replacements as yet. According to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, the party will not return to the House until the Caribbean Court of Justice determines the appeals before it on the No Confidence motion.
The resignations of the four government ministers follow a legal challenge that was supported by the Government itself, against the December 21 vote of Government Parliamentarian Charrandass Persaud.
Private citizen Compton Reid had moved to the court to nullify Persaud’s vote, which gave the opposition a majority of 33 against the government’s 32 for the passage of the No Confidence motion. Reid claimed that as someone with dual citizenship, Persaud’s vote was not valid.
In a decision of the High Court, subsequently confirmed by the Court of Appeal, it was determined that those with dual citizenship are not qualified for election to the National Assembly; however, it was also ruled that the vote was valid, since there is a constitutional provision that saves the validity of the vote even though the member was illegal.
Though 33 votes were more than 32, the Court of Appeal subsequently overruled the High Court’s decision to uphold the passage of the motion, which would have ended the life of the government in three months unless there was a Parliamentary vote of 2/3 of the members to extend its life for the holding of fresh general elections.
The Court of Appeal ruled that an “absolute” majority was needed to pass the motion and that that “absolute” majority would translate to 34 votes in the 65-seat House.
The Opposition Leader has appealed the decision at the Caribbean Court of Justice. The hearing on the case is due for May 10.