President David Granger today announced three new ministerial appointments in wake of the resignations of four ministers due to them being found to be ineligible to serve as Members of Parliament (MPs) by virtue of being dual citizens.
The new appointees are Dawn Hastings-Williams, who will serve as Minister of State in the Ministry of the Presidency; Hemraj Rajkumar, who will serve as Minister of Business; and Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, who will serve as Minister of the Public Service in the Ministry of the Presidency. Sarabo-Halley is expected to be sworn in when the National Assembly meets tomorrow.
In an address to the nation, President Granger has also announced the reassignment of Annette Ferguson to Minister in the Ministry of Communities, with responsibility for Housing (she previously served as Junior Public Infrastructure); Simona Charles-Broomes as Minister in the Ministry of the Presidency with responsibility for Youth Affairs (she previously served as Junior Natural Resources Minister); and Valerie Patterson-Yearwood, as Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture with responsibility for Rural Affairs (she previously served as Junior Communities Minister with responsibility for Housing).
There was no explanation of who would be responsible for the foreign affairs portfolio, which was previously held by Carl Greenidge, one of the four ministers forced to resign. The others are: Joseph Harmon, who was State Minister; Dominic Gaskin, who was Minister of Business; and Dr Ruper Roopnaraine, who was Minister of Public Affairs.
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.
In his address, Granger noted the court rulings and his duty to ensure that the government acts in accordance with the Constitution at all times. “Your government is committed to upholding the Constitution unreservedly,” he also said.
The president thanked the former ministers for their stewardship as members of his Cabinet and of the National Assembly since May 2015. “Their sterling public service has been to our nation’s benefit,” he noted.