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GUYANA | Constitution doesn't cater for MPs with dual citizenship – Chief Justice

Featured Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire says Charrandass Persaud was an illegal MP on the basis of his dual citizenship; however, this does not invalidate his vote. Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire says Charrandass Persaud was an illegal MP on the basis of his dual citizenship; however, this does not invalidate his vote.
GEORGETOWN, February 1, 2019 - Guyana's Chief Justice Roxanne George has ruled that it is unconstitutional for Members of Parliament to have dual citizenship.

Therefore, she has reasoned that Charrandass Persaud, a former government MP who has citizenship of Canada—where he travelled to the morning after the vote—is “not qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly by virtue of his own act and acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience and adherence to a foreign power…in contravention of the Constitution of Guyana”.

In her rulings yesterday on the three challenges to the December 21 vote, Chief Justice Roxanne George said “I hold that the declarations sought in paragraphs (1) and (2) are granted, the effects in these declarations in anyone who holds dual citizenships as defined in the parameters in Article 155 (1) A, as discussed above cannot be lawfully nominated or elected as an MP.”

“Anyone who holds dual citizenship as envisaged by Article 155 and therefore falls into this category…should not and cannot be a Member of Parliament…While some may say that this does not permit the fullest participation of diaspora Guyanese in the political leadership of Guyana, this is not for this court to pronounce on.

The Constitution is clear….Until it is amended to provide otherwise, the Constitutional provision must be adhered to,” the Chief Justice added. “Any change to reflect a different view may be undertaken by way of constitutional amendment if the public and their parliamentary representatives so inclined.”

“The issues in this fix-date application have consequences not just for this case, which flowed from the action of the second respondent, but for how the business of nominating and electing representatives for the national assembly is to be conducted, it is apposite that they have been brought to the fore for ventilation and judicial consideration.”

She expressed that Charrandass Persaud was an illegal MP on the basis of his dual citizenship; however, she noted that this does not invalidate his vote.

The acting Chief Justice also ruled that a no-confidence motion can be brought before the House and it does not have to be a ‘Confidence Motion’ which can only be brought by a member of the government’s side.

Thus, she has ruled against the submission brought by Attorney-at-law Roysdale Forde which sought the validity of Persaud voting against the very list which he was selected.

On the matter brought by Attorney General Basil Williams SC., as to whether there was an absolute majority on the night of December 21, the Chief Justice ruled that in her opinion the 33 votes in the 65-member Parliament comprise a majority.

However, the AG stated that the administration disagrees with this notion and will be filing a case in the Appeal Court. Addressing the media today after the ruling he said: “They needed to have 34 votes and not 33 because you require an absolute majority as against a simple majority. The simple majority is 33 ... and 33 cannot be the same vote for the absolute majority.”

The AG is confident that the government’s appeal case is a strong one.

Meanwhile, Senior Counsel Neil Boston told the High Court he will seek a stay in the Court of Appeal on the matter. Upon his enquiry, Chief Justice (ag), Roxane George disclosed she will provide her ruling in writing on Wednesday, February 6, 2019.

Last modified onFriday, 01 February 2019 15:14
  • Countries: Guyana

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