Home News Police called in to investigate dual citizenship MPs
Attorney Christopher Ram has formally requested the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to launch an investigation into the possible violation of the Constitution of Guyana by parliamentarians who hold dual citizenship.
Listed as suspected violators of Article 155 of the Constitution, the Representation of the People’s Act and the Statutory Declarations Act are Members of Parliament (MPs) from both the Opposition and APNU/AFC Coalition Government. They are Ministers Dominic Gaskin, Carl Greenidge, Joseph Harmon, Rupert Roopnaraine; and Opposition members Gail Teixeira, Odinga Lumumba and Adrian Anamayah.
“You, as Commissioner of Police, will immediately appreciate that the Constitution is the country’s supreme law and is underpinned by the rule of law,” Ram penned in the letter which was dispatched to Top Cop Leslie James on February 18.
He also asked the Police to expand this investigation to all MPs, since others may have dual citizenships unbeknownst to the public.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has since made it clear that parliamentarians of the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) will uphold the law. Jagdeo said those MPs who want to retain their dual citizenship would be recalled and replaced.
Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George recently ruled that anyone who holds dual citizenship; that is, citizenship of Guyana and of a foreign power or state, as envisaged by Article 155 (1) (a), therefore falls in this category of disqualified persons pursuant to Article 156 (1) (d), and should not, and cannot, be a member of the National Assembly ….
Ram called the Police Commissioner’s attention to the ruling, and also cited other laws which he believes are being breached by MPs with dual citizenship.
These is Section 11 (3) of the Representation of the People Act, which states, “A list of candidates [for election to the National Assembly] shall set out the names, one below the other in such order as each party may determine of the surnames and other names, of at least 42 persons qualified to be elected to the National Assembly and who have consented to the inclusion of their names in the list as candidates for election, together with the address and occupation of each such person.”
There also is Section 11 (4) of the said Act, which reads, “Each list of candidates shall be accompanied by a statutory declaration in Form ~’l 3 by each person named therein as a candidate of his qualifications and consent, made before a justice of the peace, commissioner of oaths, notary public, or other person authorised by law to administer an oath in the place where the declaration is made.”
Section 4 of the Statutory Declarations Act, Cap 5:09, provides that “Everyone who makes a declaration according to this Act containing any statement false in fact, which he knows or believes to be false or does not believe to be true, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be liable to imprisonment for one year.”
Ram is therefore contending that parliamentarians who hold dual citizenship have falsely declared that they are qualified to be MPs.
While PPP/C MP Gail Teixeira has signalled her intention to give up her foreign citizenship to continue serving in the National Assembly, no one from the Government side has made such a commitment.
The AFC has argued that the issue of renouncing citizenship does not apply to its parliamentarian Dominic Gaskin, who was born in the United Kingdom.
On the other hand, none of the APNU members have indicated a willingness to give up their foreign citizenships.
The issue of persons with dual citizenship in the National Assembly existed for years, but only resurfaced after former Government MP Charrandas Persaud voted in favour of a no-confidence motion which was tabled by the Opposition and validly passed in the National Assembly.
Government supporter Compton Reid has challenged the validity of the vote cast by Persaud in the National Assembly on the basis that he breached Article 155 of the Constitution, which bars MPs from having dual citizenship.
But the Chief Justice noted that while Persaud should not have been a sitting parliamentarian because of his dual citizenship, at the time of his vote on the motion, he was a valid MP, hence his vote is valid.