APNU+AFC issues ultimatum for Parliament to publicise Walrond’s US renunciation certificate
The opposition APNU+AFC has given the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs a 24-hour deadline to submit the Certificate of Renunciation of US citizenship by Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond.
If the Clerk does not adhere to the request of the APNU+AFC within that time, frame, then it plans to file “legal proceedings to prevent this flagrant breach of the Constitution.”
In a lawyer’s letter sent to the Clerk on behalf of the Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon, it was stated that the APNU+AFC is still awaiting a response from Mr Isaacs to an October 25 letter which requested the certificate.
“To date, we have not received a reply to the aforesaid Letter. We again by this Letter request a copy of the Certificate of Renunciation submitted by Mrs. Oneidge Walrond to you. The information released by Mrs. Oneidge Walrond and which is in the public domain indicates that Mrs. Oneidge Walrond was not qualified to be appointed as a Minister of Government and or Member of Parliament. It is clear that the appointment of Mrs. Oneidge Walrond was in breach of the Constitution and consequently invalid,” the letter, written by attorney Roysdale Forde, noted.
Forde is also an APNU+AFC Member of Parliament. The opposition continues to maintain that the Tourism Minister is not a lawful member of the National Assembly.
“We are also of the view that the failure to respond to the aforesaid Letter by supplying a copy of the Certificate of Renunciation is most untenable. The inaction by yourself and the Speaker of the National Assembly in the face of the unconstitutional appointment of Mrs. Oneidge Walrond is unacceptable and constitutes a violation of your obligation to uphold the Constitution of Guyana.
“In the circumstances, we hereby demand that within twenty-four (24) hours of the receipt of this Letter, you do respond to the aforesaid Letter, by submitting a copy of the Certificate of Renunciation submitted to you by Mrs. Oneidge Walrond. The failure to comply with the request would result in the institution of legal proceedings to prevent this flagrant breach of the Constitution,” Forde stated in his letter to the Clerk.
Walrond, in late October, confirmed that she had renounced her United States (US) citizenship before the first sitting of the National Assembly on September 1, 2020, but she did not provide a specific date.
According to the minister, she was advised by her lawyer that the sections of the Constitution prohibiting elected members from being dual citizens do not apply to her, since she is a Technocrat Minister. But she decided to renounce her US citizenship “out of an abundance of caution” and to “avoid any distraction to the good work of the government.”
According to the Tourism Minister, she wrote the U.S. Consular Office on August 18, 2020, renouncing her citizenship to that country with immediate effect, and complied with the process by August 27.
The minister was not a candidate for the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) in the March 02, 2020 elections, but was selected to be a Technocrat Minister, which basically means that she has no voting power in the National Assembly.
The issue of dual citizenship came up in 2019, after former AFC member, Mr. Charrandass Persaud crossed the floor in favour of the then Opposition PPP/C in a No-Confidence Motion against the APNU+AFC Government in December 2018.
Following legal challenges, the Court of Appeal ruled that a person holding dual citizenship was not entitled to be a member of the National Assembly.
Article 155 of the Constitution states: “(1) 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.”