Barbara Patricia Pilgrim, the new Member of Parliament who replaced Charrandas Persaud after his expulsion from his Alliance For Change (AFC) parliamentary seat due to his December 21, 2018, conscience vote, is reportedly a holder of dual citizenship.
This is according to well-placed sources, who affirmed that the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) parliamentarian is a United States (US) citizen.
This comes at a time when Government has argued that Persaud’s dual citizenship status invalidated his vote in support of the No-confidence Motion that brought the Government down.
Pilgrim took the oath as a MP during the 112th sitting of the 11th Parliament on Thursday. Repeated efforts by <<<<INews>>> to contact Pilgrim were futile.
When contracted, Government Chief Whip Amna Ally said she is unaware of Pilgrim’s citizenship status. “I wouldn’t know, I am not working for the US Embassy,” Ally told this publication.
The MP is a former teacher, co-op officer and a community development officer. In the National Assembly, she represents Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) on the basis of geographical representation.
On December 21, the No-confidence Motion brought by the parliamentary Opposition People’s Progressive Party against the Government succeeded when Persaud, who has since left the jurisdiction, broke rank and made a conscience vote in favour of the motion.
With the Government’s defeat, the next steps are spelt out in the Constitution of Guyana. Article 106 (6) of the Constitution states: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.”
Meanwhile, clause 7 goes on to state that “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”
Since the passage of the motion, however, persons aligned with the coalition party have sought to question the motion’s validity even as the vote has already been certified. Attorney General Basil Williams has also argued that Persaud, as a dual citizen of Canada, was disqualified from voting.
This argument formed part of the opinions presented to Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Barton Scotland in the hopes that he would reverse the ruling. On Thursday, the Speaker refused to do so.
With the Speaker refusing to reverse his ruling, a court case was filed on Friday, in which an order is being sought to, among other things to delay the elections until the court rules on the matter.
In a section of the affidavit, submitted to the High Court, it is stated that an application is being made for a declaration from the court that Persaud is not qualified as a member of the National Assembly.
According to the document filed, Persaud “…by virtue of his own act and acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience and adherence to a foreign power to wit, the Sovereign State of Canada, in contravention of Article 155 (1) (a) of the Constitution of Guyana”.
Compton Herbert Reid, the private citizen who filed the legal challenge is arguing that the former MP’s vote was null and void.
Attorney Rex McKay filed the challenge on behalf of Reid while the respondents are listed as Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland, Charrandas Persaud and Attorney General Basil Williams.