Guyana Politics: Illegal Dual Citizenship affects a number of Parliamentarians

PPP’s Gail Teixeira prepared to renounce her Canadian citizenship

MP  Gail Teixeira

Jagdeo told the media that she told him that she is prepared to give up her citizenship. “I did not ask her, she offered.”
Teixeira’s intended move comes on the heels of Thursday’s ruling by Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire that politicians who are holders of dual citizenship cannot be elected to the National Assembly.     

Justice George-Wiltshire’s ruling is in keeping with the Constitutional provision which clearly prohibits dual citizens functioning as parliamentarians.    

Article 155 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.”

Justice George-Wiltshire’s ruling has serious implications for many dual citizen politicians sitting on both sides of the National Assembly.
During an earlier press conference, Jagdeo had told the media that there might have been one or two other parliamentarians on the People’s Progressive Party/Civic benches who hold dual citizenship.

Yesterday he still could not say, definitively, the number of persons on the opposition benches holding dual citizenship. But this newspaper understands that Odinga Lumumba and Adrian Anamyah are dual citizens as well.

Nevertheless, Jagdeo was quick to point out yesterday that the government benches have more persons who are dual citizens.
He said that he knows for sure that Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, who sometimes acts as Prime Minister, holds dual citizenship. He said that the same is true about Minister of State, Joseph Harmon. “Those two I am sure of, but I am hearing about Rupert Roopnaraine and some others.”

This newspaper understands that Harmon is a citizen of the United States while Greenidge is a citizen of the United Kingdom where he worked and lived for many years.
Neither Harmon nor Greenidge announced what would be their next move even as they continue to function as Ministers of Government.
In fact, Harmon was asked about this before when he hosted a post-Cabinet press briefing earlier this year. He told the media that the government will address the implications of sitting parliamentarians holding dual citizenship after Justice George-Wiltshire’s ruling.

Harmon, who also holds a US passport, told the media that “until the court has made its ruling, at which time I believe the Party of which I am a member, the partnership of which I am a member and the coalition of which I am a member, will make definitive statements on the matter.”
The Minister declined to comment on whether he will relinquish his own US citizenship.

The Alliance For Change (AFC) no longer has the problem of having to deal with MPs who are holders of dual citizenship.
Defector, Charrandass Persaud, the MP who voted against his own government, was one AFC parliamentarian who had dual citizenship. This was reportedly unknown to other members of the party.

At a press conference earlier this year, AFC disclosed that Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin was born in the United Kingdom but is a citizen of Guyana by descent.
The issue of renouncing citizenship does not apply to Guyanese who were born in another country because that person would not have had to swear allegiance to another country.

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  • Cheryl  On February 3, 2019 at 8:52 am

    They should all be removed from their Ministerial positions and opposition members should not be allowed to run for Public Office either.

  • Kman  On February 7, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    So, if you were born outside of Guyana, to Guyanese parent(s), you can hold political office in Guyana. But if you are a born Guyanese who is also a citizen of another country, you cannot hold an elected political office? Hogwash!

    • icwhy  On April 8, 2019 at 7:53 am

      It’s not hogwash! How can anyone who has “pledged myself to honour always the flag of Guyana…” but then gone on to pledge his/her loyalty to a foreign power be trusted to act entirely in the interests of his/her mother country and not in those of her/his adoptive land?
      The key words in the legislation are those which state that the subject must of his/her own volition sought another nationality – not just had that nationality ‘thrust upon them” e.g. by dint of birth or marriage.
      Not hogwash – just plain common sense!

  • Russ  On February 8, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    As far as I’m concerned dual citizen should never be allowed by any country. Make up your mind which flag you swear allegiance to and live by it….

  • icwhy  On April 8, 2019 at 7:43 am

    What appears to being largely (or conveniently!) ignored is the fact that US citizens are not permitted to hold any additional nationality. If US-born they must surrender that nationality upon acquiring that of any other country and, conversely, if acquiring US nationality, automatically (in the eyes of the USA) relinquish any other nationality/ies which they hitherto held.
    Thus, it can be argued, that anyone holding US citizenship cannot also be deemed to be Guyanese.
    Indeed, is it not time that ALL of these fence-sitters were required to stop ‘hedging their bets’ and to decide where their loyalty truly lies? How otherwise can we Guyanese be convinced that, when an MP in Georgetown is pontificating upon matters which affect Guyana, his or her heart and soul does not repose in Washington?

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