Speaker should not permit dual citizens in National Assembly – Ram

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Attorney-at-law, Christopher Ram

…MPs should resign or renounce out of “political morality”– WPA executive

Despite recent court rulings that persons holding dual citizenship status should not be parliamentarians, the Guyana Government is preparing to return to the House with all 33 members, some of whom have dual citizenship.

Chartered Accountant and Attorney Christopher Ram has said he believes the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland, should not allow these dual citizen parliamentarians back in the House.

Chartered accountant and attorney-at-law Christopher Ram

In an interview with INews on Friday, Ram said the action by the Government to return with dual citizens to Parliament is “disgraceful, unbelievable (and) contemptuous. It shows (utter) contempt and disregard for the Constitution by people of the stature of Carl Greenidge (Foreign Affairs Minister); (so) it’s hard to say how much lower we as a country can get,” Ram said.

The attorney argued that Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George, as well as the Court of Appeal, has ruled that the Members of Parliament with dual citizenship should not be in Parliament.

Article 155 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana states: “No person shall be qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly who (a) is, by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.” In this regard, the attorney pointed out, he believes the Police should be summoned to ensure the laws are upheld.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland

“They have committed a criminal offence, because to swear to an oath falsely is a criminal offence, and this is something maybe the Commissioner of Police (Leslie James) ought to be looking into,” Ram declared.

He pointed out that if an ordinary person breaks the law or operates in a similar manner, that person would be dealt with by the relevant authorities, and the politicians should be treated no differently.

The attorney maintained that the Speaker of the National Assembly has ultimate power in the Public Buildings, and those Ministers are demonstrating gross disrespect towards him by pushing the Constitution aside for what he described as “selfish reasons.”

Despite the Court of Appeal last week upholding a January High Court ruling that it is illegal for persons holding dual citizenship status to be sitting in the National Assembly, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, on Friday said all Members of Parliament (MPs) on the Government’s side will return to the National Assembly until a final ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is handed down.

Resign or renounce

Meanwhile, during a recent town hall broadcast hosted by Globespan 24×7, Working People’s Alliance (WPA) Executive Dr David Hinds noted that, in the interest of “political morality”, dual citizens in the National Assembly should make a choice between renouncing their dual citizenship and resigning from the house.

WPA Executive Dr David Hinds

He labelled as ‘politics’ the fact that the coalition Government would pick and choose which parts of the recent Court of Appeal ruling it would adhere to (that the no-confidence motion against it was not validly passed), and which to delay acting upon (that dual citizens cannot be Members of Parliament).

According to David Hinds, the Constitution is clear about dual citizenship. However, he said, what some would call duplicity is actually politics.

But Economist Sase Singh, who also appeared on the talk show programme, noted that the line has to be drawn somewhere. He pointed out that dual citizens are not irreplaceable, and that the best thing may be for them to step aside and give youthful members of their electoral lists a chance.

Singh was critical of the fact that despite Guyana’s population being largely youthful, the majority of its parliamentary representatives are geriatrics.

The next sitting of the National Assembly has been scheduled for April 11.

 

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