President David Granger has received and accepted the resignation of all coalition Members of Parliament (MPs) who are holders of dual citizenship, the government announced this morning.
“These members will not be returning to Parliament therefore, when it reconvenes on April 11, 2019,” the government said in a brief statement, in which it also reiterated its commitment to upholding the constitution and the ruling of the Court of Appeal on the motion of no-confidence that was brought against it. The statement by the government did not name the MPs.
The announcement comes days after Minister of State Joseph Harmon, who himself holds US citizenship, announced that all government MPs would be present when the House reconvenes as Cabinet had not taken a decision on those members with dual citizenship.
The other government MPs with dual citizenship are Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge, Minister of Public Service Dr Rupert Roopnaraine and Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin, who all hold British citizenship.
The administration had faced sustained criticism over its failure to remove its MPs with dual citizenship in light of rulings by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal, which found that they were ineligible for election to the National Assembly.
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.”
The rulings were made in the proceedings related to the vote on the no-confidence motion against the government, which had been accused by opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo of selectively upholding the decisions of the courts.
Jagdeo has said that his party will be respecting the courts’ rulings and that MPs Odinga Lumumba and Gail Teixeira, who are US and Canadian citizens, respectively, have indicated that they will relinquish their foreign citizenship. The way forward was yet to be discussed with a third PPP/C MP, Adrian Anamayah.
Jagdeo said that in keeping with government’s utterances that it respects the ruling of the court, all ministers who have dual citizenship status should immediately resign from their posts since they would be appointed by virtue of their election to the National Assembly.
Asked last Friday to respond to Jagdeo’s accusation of government being selective with respect to its treatment of the rulings on dual citizen MPs as against the other rulings made by the courts, he said he disagreed. “At the appropriate time, I can say to you that decisions of members of the government, including me… will be made in the public interest. Whatever is in the public interest, be assured that we will make those decisions at the appropriate time,” he later said.
It was the vote of former government MP Charrandass Persaud, a Canadian citizen, which led to the opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion against government being declared passed on the night of December 21st last. A case was subsequently filed in the High Court challenging the validity of his vote given his dual citizenship status.