Roopnaraine confirms UK citizenship

-Jagdeo says MPs Teixeira, Anamayah have dual status

Dr Rupert Roopnaraine

Public Service Minister Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine yesterday confirmed that he has UK citizenship and expressed his willingness to relinquish it if he needs to.

When contacted, Roopnaraine told Stabroek News that it is true that he is a dual citizen and explained that he has a UK passport as well as a Guyana passport.

Asked if he is willing to relinquish his foreign citizenship, he said “I am, if it’s necessary.”

Roopnaraine told Stabroek News that he has had the UK citizenship for “ages” and said that he only travels on the British passport if he is travelling to England, a trip he has not taken in the longest while.

The issue of MPs holding dual citizenship has taken centre stage recently following the vote by former government parliamentarian Charrandass Persaud, then an APNU+AFC parliamentarian, which resulted in the opposition PPP/C’s no confidence motion against government being declared passed on December 21st by 33 to 32 votes.

Following the contentions over the vote, Compton Reid, a private citizen, subsequently filed a court action that challenges the validity of Persaud’s election as a Member of Parliament (MP) due to his dual citizenship, and the legality of his vote on the motion. This has raised questions about parliamentarians on both side of the House as according to Article 155 (1) (a) of the Constitution, “No person shall be qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly who is, by virtue of his or her own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.”

Sources had identified a total of seven MPs—four on the government side and three in opposition—who are dual citizens.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday said he has confirmed that PPP/C members Gail Teixeira and Adrian Anamayah have dual citizenship.

“From what I have heard, we have two persons on our side who I can confirm are dual citizens,” he told a press conference at his Church Street office.

Stabroek News had made contact with Anamayah on Monday and he denied that he held such a status. When contacted yesterday and told that Jagdeo has identified him as a dual citizen, he appeared shocked and remained adamant that he did not hold such a status. “He did that? I gotta see the press conference. I didn’t know that,” he said before informing that he will contact the newspaper once he has seen a recording of the press conference.

Roopnaraine, a member of the WPA is the third government MP to disclose dual citizenship status.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon over the weekend admitted to being a dual citizen, holding both American and Guyanese citizenship, but he would not say if he travels on a US passport or if he would give up that citizenship if called upon.

On Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge confirmed that he has UK citizenship, which he acquired after leaving Guyana as a child and pointed out that he has already engaged his attorneys on this matter and is awaiting the outcome of the court case.

Asked if he is willing to give up that status, he said “for the moment I’ll see what comes out of that [the court matter] but I have in fact been looking at it with the lawyers for some time.”

The sixth parliamentarian identified to this newspaper is opposition member Odinga Lumumba. When contacted he indicated that he had to make a check before noting that he will also await the outcome of the court case if he does hold such a status.

This newspaper was previously told that Persaud was the only AFC member with dual citizenship. The party at a press conference on Wednesday informed that prior to the submission of names for its 12 MPs in 2015, members were asked if they had dual citizenship.

Chairman of the party Khemraj Ramjattan revealed that Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin was the only one to indicate that he had been born in the United Kingdom. Ramjattan expressed the view that Gaskin would not fall into the category as the constitution stipulates the violation.

“The article states by own virtue of his or her own act and that means by own personal will. Being born there or having a parent means you would have gotten it as a child and not of your own will and it was why Janet Jagan is excluded also. When you are a baby born or a child you cannot say [no]. That is why Janet was [excluded], she was born [in the U.S], she could not say no. And when she came here, that did not mean she was excluded from being [President]. So it would not apply to Janet or [Gaskin]…,” he said.

Ramjattan noted that the party was not aware and had no indication of Persaud’s dual citizenship status as when he travelled to conduct government business, he would always use his Guyana passport.

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