Following the resignation of dual citizen Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Rupert Roopnarine from the National Assembly, his Working People’s Alliance (WPA) party has settled on its Chairperson, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, as his replacement.
According to information reaching this online publication, Halley was touted as a replacement along with fellow party members Desmond Trotman, a current Guyana Elections Commissioner (GECOM) and Dr Rishi Thakur.
According to a source, one of the reasons is because Halley is reportedly favoured by some party leaders. While the party has settled on a final name and sources indicate that name is Sarabo-Halley, it is understood that the party is awaiting confirmation from its coalition partner, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).
In March 2018, Sarabo-Halley was one of three Directors from the Guyana Chronicle who had resigned after two outspoken columnists – who were critical to the APNU/AFC – were dropped from the State’s newspaper.
In 2016, Sarabo-Halley was also one of three persons whom Government had been secretly expending millions of dollars for full scholarship programmes.
Junior Education Minister Nicolette Henry and Junior Infrastructure Minister Annette Ferguson, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine’s daughter, Alicia Roopnaraine, former Chief Education Officer Olato Sam and Sarabo-Halley were the beneficiaries.
Henry was doing her PhD in Public Health to the tune of $3.36 million, while Ferguson benefitted from a $3.38 million scholarship in Public Policy Management.
Additionally, Education Minister Dr Rupert Roopnaraine’s daughter, Alicia, benefitted from a $2.58 million scholarship at a university in the UK. She is studying psychology.
Former Chief Education Officer Olato Sam, who was studying Education Policy in Jamaica, costing some $946,000 and Sarabo-Halley was pursuing Public Policy Management studies in the UK to the tune of $3.4 million.
In February, acting Chief Justice Roxanne George had ruled on the case filed by Compton Reid over the dual citizenship of former AFC Member of Parliament (MP) Charrandas Persaud. In the case it brought to the Chief Justice, Government had argued that Persaud’s dual citizenship status invalidated his vote in support of the No-Confidence Motion that brought the Government down last year.
This argument also formed part of the opinions presented to Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Barton Scotland in the hopes that he would reverse the ruling, something the Speaker ultimately refused to do.
The Court of Appeal later upheld the January High Court ruling that it is illegal for persons holding dual citizenship status to be sitting in the National Assembly. Government has been under increasing criticism, even from its own supporters, for stating that dual citizens will return to the National Assembly despite these two rulings.
On April 2, the Ministry of the Presidency had announced that effective from April 1, Members of Parliament (MP’s) on the Government side that have dual citizenship had resigned.
These MP’s were Minister of State Joseph Harmon (United States citizenship), Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge, Business Minister Dominic Gaskin and Public Service Minister Dr Rupert Roopnarine (all British citizenships).
In a statement afterwards, Government had said that the vacated ministerial posts will be occupied by the former Ministers’ Cabinet colleagues. According to a statement, Ministers who acted in the past for them will once more fill in.
But then in another statement the next day, the Ministry of the Presidency had announced that the resignation of four Ministers would not take immediate effect. Further, the statement had said that three of the four parliamentarians who had indicated their intention to resign, planned on renouncing their foreign citizenship.
But in another twist, it emerged that Dr Roopnarine had resigned with immediate effect. It would not be the first time, having tendered his resignation back in 2017 citing health reasons.