All three of the opposition’s dual citizen parliamentarians have submitted their letters of resignation to the National Assembly and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday said that the party is still searching for replacements.
After berating the government for its conflicting stance on the dual citizen issue, Jagdeo announced during his weekly press conference that Gail Teixeira and Adrian Anamayah have tendered their resignations to the National Assembly and that Odinga Lumumba would submit his soon. Stabroek News late yesterday afternoon saw a copy of Lumumba’s letter which was delivered earlier in the day and took immediate effect.
Jagdeo went on to stress the contributions Teixeira has made to parliament and informed that once she completes the process of renouncing her Canadian citizenship, her name will be back on the party’s list.
“It’s a sad thing. A person like Gail Teixeira I know how agonizing this must be for her having served the country I think [for] over 25 years in Parliament and you know the passion with which she has done so. She was our Chief Whip and …one of the most knowledgeable persons in parliament and then to have to resign but from a principled position must be heart wrenching but she is a principled person,” he said.
“She will be on the list in the future so this is not the end of her career in the National Assembly,” he said.
Asked about the replacements, he said that the party has not made a decision on this. He did not say how soon a decision is likely to be made.
In total there are seven dual citizens unlawfully occupying seats in the National Assmbly; four on the government side and three opposition members.
Article 155 (1) (a) of the Constitution states, “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.”
Both sides had made a commitment to having these persons resign in keeping with the rulings of the High Court and the Court of Appeal that they ought not to be there.
To date only Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine has submitted his letter. “I have done so, yes,” Roopnaraine, a British national who holds the Public Service Minister portfolio had told Stabroek News on April 10.
Based on the information that was provided to this newspaper, once that letter is submitted Roopnaraine’s tenure as a minister comes to an end and so will his receipt of a parliamentary salary.
Jagdeo at a press conference yesterday pointed out that Roopnaraine was present at the cabinet meeting held in Berbice on Tuesday as a minister. “What is going on? The ministers are illegal….all of those ministers who hold dual citizenship,” he stressed.
Roopnaraine could be seen clearly in photographs released by government sitting between Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence and government Chief Whip Amna Ally.
Jagdeo reiterated that he personally shares some of the views expressed about a dual citizen being a Member of Parliament. “I have said this before that I don’t see a problem but that is a personal view, that’s not a party view, that all of our people wherever they live being able to contribute to the development of Guyana and we must not exclude our people, our diaspora,” he said adding that the PPP will not be convenient like “[Raphael] Trotman and the others and we are not going to do anything illegal.”
Jagdeo informed that the party in its next manifesto will promise a process that could lead to constitutional reform in the future to address the dual citizen issue.
“The constitution does not belong to the PPP or APNU or AFC. The constitution belongs to the people of Guyana and we can’t conveniently now go and do this. If the people of the country want it then we must accept that and we will outline a process that will deal with this issue in the future but not … suddenly shift our positions based on convenience,” he said.
The other government parliamentarians are British nationals Carl Greenidge, who is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Business Minister, Dominic Gaskin and Minister of State Joseph Harmon who is the holder of a US passport. Gaskin was born in the UK unlike his two colleagues.
Meanwhile, with respect to next Friday’s sitting of the National Assembly, Jagdeo made it clear that the party will not be in attendance even if the approval of funds for GECOM to conduct elections is on the agenda. He said that the party was awaiting the outcome of the confidence case in the Caribbean Court of Justice before deciding on a way forward.
Initially, April 11 was set for the sitting, but government decided to push back that date.
Parliament Office yesterday released the order paper which said that the sitting is scheduled for a 2 pm start on April 26. Though government has indicated that funding for elections will be among the issues to be dealt with this is not listed on the order paper.
Among the items listed is the presentation of annual reports and papers including an IDB loan contract for an amount of US$11,640,000 to finance the Strengthening of the Energy Sector Programme and the introduction of six bills including the interception of communications (amendment) bill 2019.