Govt dual citizens to return to National Assembly – Chief Whip

“Business as usual”

…flouts Court of Appeal ruling on matter

With Parliament expected to be reconvened at any moment after the ruling of the Appeal Court on Friday, persons are questioning whether dual citizens will return to the chambers. When it comes to the Government, however, it will be business as usual for the dual-citizen Members of Parliament (MPs).
When contacted by Guyana Times on Monday, Government Chief Whip Amna Ally stated that all MPs on the Government side would be turning out for the next sitting. She noted that there was nothing impeding them from attending.
“I don’t know that there is a court action filed against anyone from attending … so all parliamentarians will be attending Parliament,” Ally explained, when asked about the fate of the dual citizens on the Government side of the House.
Already, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has made it known that it would not be attending sittings of the National Assembly, with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo announcing on Sunday that the Party would be sitting out sittings while the no-confidence cases still have to be settled.
According to Jagdeo in the announcement on his social media page, he wishes to “place on record that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) will not attend any sitting of the National Assembly”.
This, according to Jagdeo, will be in effect while the appeal of the ruling of the Appellate Court on the no-confidence motion is pending at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Following the Appeal Court’s ruling that the no-confidence motion was not validly passed, the PPP/C had announced on Friday that it would move to the CCJ.
When it comes to dual citizens, the long-standing issue rose to the surface with the passage of the no-confidence motion last year. In February, acting Chief Justice Roxane George had ruled on the case filed by Compton Reid over the dual citizenship of former Alliance For Change (AFC) MP Charrandas Persaud.
In the case it brought to the acting Chief Justice, Government had argued that Persaud’s dual citizenship status invalidated his vote in support of the no-confidence motion that brought the Government down.
This argument also formed part of the opinions presented to Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland in the hopes that he would reverse the ruling –something the Speaker ultimately refused to do.
According to the acting CJ, by swearing allegiance to another State, a dual citizen is not qualified to be elected to serve in the National Assembly. But Charrandas was not the only one. In the Opposition camp, Chief Whip Gail Teixeira (who has Canadian citizenship) has already indicated her willingness to renounce her citizenship. And Jagdeo has publicly said that dual citizens from the Opposition camp would not return to Parliament.
In the case of the Government, Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge (United Kingdom citizen) and Minister of State, Joseph Harmon (who has United States citizenship) have both failed to say if they would choose Parliament or dual citizenship when the time comes.
Article 155 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana states that “No person shall be qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly who (a) is, by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.”
However, while the Government has chosen to ignore this aspect of the ruling, they have held to the lifeline of the 34 majority required for the successful passage of the no-confidence motion.