Political commentator and Attorney-at-Law Christopher Ram says the Guyana Government cannot ‘have its cake and eat it’ when it comes to the issue of dual citizens among Members of Parliament (MPs).
Ram was at the time speaking during a teleconference on Globespan 24×7 live show in New York with Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC) and Third Vice President Khemraj Ramjattan. The show was moderated by financial analyst Sase Singh.
Since the December 21, 2018 passage of the No-Confidence Motion, which saw former AFC MP Charrandas Persaud voting in favour of the Opposition-sponsored motion that went on to topple the Coalition Government, the ruling administration has sought to question the validity of Persaud’s vote, given the fact that he is also a citizen of Canada.
In fact, this matter was taken to the court, and acting Chief Justice Roxane George ruled in January that it was unconstitutional to be a dual citizen and serve in the National Assembly.
However, it was revealed since last year that there were other parliamentarians from both the Government and Opposition sides who are dual citizens. These include: Minister of State Joseph Harmon, Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge; and Minister Rupert Roopnaraine as well as Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira and MPs Adrian Anamayah and Odinga Lumumba.
During Saturday’s live Town Hall discussion, Ram said, “Ramjattan cannot have his cake or roti and eat it. You cannot say Charrandas’s vote is illicit but Greenidge’s vote is legitimate.”
He was at the time responding to Ramjattan’s attempt to downplay the dual citizen status of Government parliamentarians in the National Assembly.
“He is trying to protect Dominic Gaskin because he was born abroad… [Gaskin] has renewed his passport (thus pledging his allegiance to another country)… The matter was decided (in the High Court), and that is the position throughout the world,” Ram stated.
This issue came up for discussion when the moderator, Financial Analyst Sase Singh, asked about the international, political and security implications for Guyana if, after March, Venezuela does not recognize Guyana’s Government, particularly Minister Greenidge – who has been Guyana’s point person in the ongoing border controversy and had even filed the case at the World Court last year. Greenidge, while being a Guyanese, is also a British citizen.
Ram posited that there could be implications for Guyana regarding the ongoing border controversy with the neighbouring Spanish-speaking nation should the country go into a constitutional crisis after the March deadline.
“The Venezuelans may very well use that (against us). What are we going to say? The De facto APNU/AFC ruling in Guyana… It’s ludicrous… It’s people like Ramjattan and (Prime Minister Moses) Nagamootoo who are the enablers of this lawlessness. (President David) Granger was quite prepared at one stage to accept the consequences. Even Nagamootoo was prepared to accept the consequences as well, but suddenly Nigel Hughes and his 34 majority has changed this,” the political commentator contended.
But Ramjattan insisted that the Doctrine of Necessity and the De facto Doctrine allows the Coalition administration to remain in office until a new President is appointed.
“…everyone in the world recognises the coalition government as the Government of Guyana… even after March… This concept of saying the President is not legitimate and is a squatter I think is very disrespectful… That president is duly elected and has not resigned, and even if you want to use Article 106 (6) to argue that he is resigned, the fact is that there is a provision to 10 (6), called 106 (7), that says notwithstanding that, he shall remain the President until next elections,” Ramjattan argued.
Nevertheless, Ram believes that since the High Court’s ruling, both sides in the House should have immediately withdrawn their dual citizen members. In fact, last week Ram lodged a formal complaint with Police Commissioner Leslie James regarding possible violations of the law when it comes to parliamentarians holding dual citizenship, and he called for an investigation of the MPs.