Tourism Minister rejects trial in public; asserts legal right to sit in National Assembly

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With a legal challenge to her participation in the National Assembly as a government Parliamentarian, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond has rejected any attempt to be “tried” in public.

She intends to deal with an application, filed by the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition seeking a declaration to ultimately have her removed from the National Assembly in the courts, at the appropriate time and has refused to divulge any details on her legal arguments.

An attorney herself, Oneidge told members of the media on Friday on the sidelines of an event at the Guyana Marriott Hotel in Kingston, Georgetown, she is confident that she has done everything to act morally.

“As an attorney, I am cognisant that this matter is now engaging the court so I will refrain from speaking too much on the legal arguments. I don’t want a trial in the public but suffice to say that I am confident that I have done everything in my power to act morally. The attempt to besmirch my character has not gone unnoticed,” Minister Oneidge said.

She asserted that she has “full legal rights” to sit in the National Assembly and has done “nothing illegal.”

“My position has been and always will be that the act of renunciation is unilateral when a citizen has done all within her power to renounce,” Minister Walrond added.

She said all acts to renounce her United States (US) citizenship were taken in the month of August, before she attended the first sitting of the National Assembly on September 1, 2020.

The Minister explained that on August 18, she informed the US embassy of her intention to renounce and then on August 27, she paid a substantial fee of over $500,000 to renounce her citizenship.

She argued that although she received her renunciation certificate after taking up her post in the National Assembly, it does not mean she sits there illegally.

“The legal standard is that the citizen ought to have done all in her power to renounce which is what I did on August 18.”

Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs has said that Walrond lost her US citizenship “immediately” upon taking an Oath of Renunciation.

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.

Guyana’s Constitution prevents any person with dual citizenship from sitting in the National Assembly.

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