…as calls mount for removal of dual citizens from National Assembly
If Parliament is reconvened by Government, it cannot be business as usual for dual citizens who have had the case for their removal from the House confirmed by the Court of Appeal after its Friday ruling on the no-confidence cases.
This is according to Opposition parliamentarian Juan Edghill, as he appeared on a Globespan24x7 Town Hall panel discussion on Saturday, which also featured Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan and was moderated by journalist Dennis Chabrol.
According to Edghill, dual citizens should do the honourable thing and vacate their seats. He zeroed in on one particular dual citizen, Foreign Affairs Minister, Vice and acting President, Carl Greenidge, who is also a citizen of the United Kingdom.
“Every dual citizen who sits in Parliament must now resign. The Government must lead the way. Instructively, last night (Friday), the Vice President (Carl Greenidge) made an address to the nation about these matters and should have at least indicated (his next step).”
“He was affected by the rulings of the appellate court,” Edghill pointed out on the show. “Because it upheld that as a dual citizen he should not have been in the Parliament, much less as Foreign Minister representing us around the world and acting as President.”
Edghill reminded Ramjattan that it was Government who have raised the spectre of dual citizenship in hopes of discrediting its former MP, Charrandas Persaud, whose conscience vote led to the passage of the No-confidence Motion last year.
“All three Judges in the Court of Appeal upheld that you cannot be a dual citizen in the National Assembly. The Government must lead the way, because its moral authority on the matter is being questioned. The [People’s Progressive Party] PPP, the General Secretary, has already addressed this issue. He even named the dual citizen at one of his press conferences.”
Edghill pointed out that Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, one of the dual citizens on the Opposition side, has already addressed her dilemma and that whatever promises the PPP makes it will abide by. He made it clear that even if the Government disregards the law and the court rulings regarding dual citizens, the PPP will not follow suit.
Meanwhile, Minister Ramjattan acknowledged that the next logical thing for dual citizen Members of Parliament to do may be to resign, unless they renounce their foreign allegiances.
“In my view, logic means indeed they would have to resign. I don’t know what will happen, but if I had my way that would be the natural course of events, unless they renounce their citizenship from those countries overseas.”
In February, Chief Justice Roxane George had ruled on the case filed by Compton Reid over the dual citizenship of former AFC Member of Parliament (MP) Charrandas Persaud. In the case it brought to the 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 Chief Justice, by swearing allegiance to another state, a dual citizen is not qualified to be elected to serve in the National Assembly. But Charrandas is not the only one. In the Opposition camp, Chief Whip Teixeira has already indicated her willingness to renounce her citizenship.
In the case of the Government, Minister Greenidge and Minister of State Joseph Harmon (who has US citizenship) have both failed to address if they would choose Parliament or dual citizenship when the time comes.