Home News PPP promises to adhere to dual citizenship law regarding MPs
People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo has committed to ensure that the laws regarding dual citizenship for Members of Parliament (MPs) are upheld.
While Jagdeo said the PPP has no intentions of returning to the National Assembly, when asked how he hopes to deal with the situation if they had to return, he said, “We will uphold the law.”
At present, the PPP has three MPs who have dual citizenship. They are Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, who is a Canadian citizen; and Adrian Anamayah and Odinga Lumumba who are both US citizens.
However, he said that if there was need to return for the handling of issues relating to the holding of elections, those who want to hold on to their dual citizenship would be recalled and replaced.
He told the press that his Party has not yet decided on who would be the three replacements, but said that such matters could be discussed quickly and decisions could be made in no time.
Jagdeo said that the executive would first have to discuss the matter and if it led to replacements, then they would have to refer to the electoral list.
It is not clear if any of the PPP/C MPs plan to give up their dual citizenship, except for Teixeira who is a long-standing member of the Party and has served in high-level positions such as presidential advisor.
In the meantime, the lone Alliance For Change (AFC) MP who holds dual citizenship is Business Minister Dominic Gaskin. He was born in the United Kingdom, but is a citizen of Guyana by descent.
The AFC has argued that the issue of renouncing citizenship does not apply to Guyanese who were born in another country. It believes that Gaskin could remain an MP because of this.
On the other hand, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) members including Minister of State, Joseph Harmon holds American citizenship and so does Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence. Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge and Minister of Public Service, Rupert Roopnaraine are also dual citizens. They are citizens of the United Kingdom.
However, none of the APNU members have indicated a willingness to give up their citizenship.
The controversy concerning persons with dual citizenship in the National Assembly surfaced 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.
A private citizen, Compton Reid, 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.
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 Chief Justice Roxane George, by swearing allegiance to another State, a dual citizen is not qualified to be elected to serve in the National Assembly.
She 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 was valid.
This issue is not peculiar to Guyana, because most recently the world was made aware of a similar situation in Australia.
That country was pitched into a political crisis in 2018 after a court ruled that a senator was ineligible to sit in Parliament because she had failed to renounce her British citizenship, triggering a spate of MP resignations.
Some 14 parliamentarians have resigned or been ruled ineligible since mid-2017 when renewed scrutiny on a constitutional clause set politicians scrambling to prove they only had Australian citizenship.