APNU+AFC moves to High Court to have Tourism Minister removed from Parliament
The APNU+AFC coalition opposition, Wednesday afternoon filed an application in the High Court seeking a declaration that government Parliamentarian and Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond is illegally occupying a seat in the National Assembly.
The Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, has been named as a respondent in the matter and said he would prefer to see the application first before responding.
The coalition wants the Minister to be removed from Parliament and said the decision to have her reinstalled as a Member of Parliament would be a decision for the government.
The application was filed by Opposition Chief Whip, Christopher Jones; he was accompanied by his colleague, Senior Counsel, Roysdale Forde.
The opposition coalition insists that when Walrond took the Oath of Office and attended the first sitting of the National Assembly on September 1st 2020, she held citizenship for both the United States of America and Guyana.
But although that issue has been cured with the Minister taking the necessary steps to renounce her citizenship to the United States of America, a move that was approved by the US Embassy Consular Division on September 9, 2020, the coalition remains aggrieved by what it says is “dishonesty.”
Speaking to the media briefly after the filing of the application, Forde, also an opposition Parliamentarian, said with the constitution clearly prohibiting persons who have dual citizens from sitting in the National Assembly, Walrond’s occupation of a seat the House is illegal.
“We have filed this proceeding seeking orders that Ms Oneidge Walrond be declared not to be a proper member of the National Assembly; secondly an order declaring that Ms Oneidge Walrond is not validly appointed as a Minister of government and thirdly an order against the Speaker of the National Assembly directing him to prohibit Ms Walrond from participating in the affairs and business of the Assembly,” Forde explained.
When asked about the intention of such an application when the Minister has already renounced her citizenship, Forde said he, and by extension, the APNU+AFC coalition considers it a reasonable case.
He explained that with recent court rulings on the matter, Walrond and the government ought to have been fully aware of the illegality of her appointment.
Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs has said that Walrond lost her United States (US) citizenship “immediately” upon taking an Oath of Renunciation “during the month of September 2020.”
The Clerk said he received legal advice on the matter. The Clerk also publicly released Walrond’s certificate of loss of nationality, which revealed that it was approved on September 8, 2020, and she took the oath of renunciation on September 4.
Walrond was sworn in as a Member of Parliament on September 1, 2020.