GECOM bars three Presidential Candidates from contesting polls over dual citizenship
-matter transferred to Police for further action
Three Presidential Candidates have been barred from contesting the March 2 general and regional elections because of their dual citizenship status.
Lenox Shuman of the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), Dr. Vishnu Bandhu of the United Republican Party (URP) and Valerie Leung of the People’s Republic Party (PRP) have been removed from their lists of candidates.
The lists of candidates for each of the 11 parties contesting the elections were gazetted on Tuesday, according to GECOM Commissioner, Bibi Shadick.
However, these persons will be removed and can face charges for giving false declarations to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Nominations Day.
Each of the Presidential Candidate presented a signed declaration form to GECOM on Nominations Day.
The form specified that they are qualified to be an elected member of the National Assembly –a requirement to be elected President of Guyana.
Both Shuman and Dr Bandhu have applied to give up their citizenships to Canada and the United States respectively, but GECOM Commissioner, Vincent Alexander on Tuesday said “if one is to apply to be on the candidates’ list and that application requires a declaration, I would assume that at the time of that declaration, you have to be in compliance.”
He explained that these three candidates are not eligible to be on the lists and will be removed.
Dr Bandhu provided a letter purportedly from the U.S Department of State, which revealed that his US citizenship was officially relinquished on January 16, 2020 – six days after Nominations Day.
Up until Nominations Day, Shuman was still waiting to hear from the Canadian Government about his application to relinquish his citizenship.
Despite their removal, the parties will still be contesting the elections since the parties’ National Top Lists have more than the required number of Candidates to fill the now vacant post.
Additionally, the Commission at its Statutory meeting on Tuesday decided to get the Police involved.
“The Police have been written and should have been written with respect to these persons who have made false declarations with respect to their dual citizen status,” GECOM Commissioner Robeson Benn told the media.
It is not clear whether the letter was dispatched.
Dr Bandhu has contested national elections in the past and both of the major political parties have had dual citizens on their lists of candidates and later Members of Parliament.
This was discontinued after an Alliance For Change (AFC) Parliamentarian who holds Guyanese and Canadian citizenship voted against his Government in a No-Confidence Motion in December 2018 bringing about a court case which sought to challenge the validity of his vote.
The court ruled that it is illegal to be sitting in the National Assembly as a dual citizen, causing several Government Ministers to resign from their posts as well as Opposition Parliamentarians.
It is because of this, GECOM is being more cautious this election.