GEORGETOWN, Guyana, April 3, 2019 (CMC) – President, David Granger, said, today, while he has accepted the resignations of the four dual-citizenship Ministers of his coalition administration, their resignations will not take effect, immediately, as there are several processes that have to be applied.
The four ministers in question, are: Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, who holds both Guyanese and United States citizenship; Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin; Minister of Public Service, Dr. Rupert Roopnarine; and Vice-president and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge — all of whom hold Guyanese and British citizenship.
In a statement, the Office of the President said that Granger wanted to make it clear that the replacement of Members of Parliament (MPs) can be done, only when those legislators submit their letters of resignation to the Speaker of the National Assembly, as is prescribed by the Guyana Constitution.
Article 156 (1) (A) of the Constitution states that “A member of the National Assembly shall vacate his or her seat therein – if he or she resigns it, by writing under his or her own hand, addressed to the Speaker or, if the Office of the Speaker if vacant or the Speaker is absent from Guyana, to the Deputy Speaker.”
In addition, Article 156 (3) also outlines the measures to be taken for a parliamentarian to step down, including that person declaring “in writing, to the Speaker or to the Representative of the List from which his or her name was extracted, his or her support for another List”.
The High Court and the Court of Appeal ruled, earlier this year, that legislators, who hold dual citizenship, were not qualified to be Members of Parliament, in keeping with the Guyana Constitution.
The statement from the Office of the President noted also, that Article 156 (4) (a) states that the Speaker shall declare the seat of a Member of the National Assembly vacant where (a) the Speaker receives a written declaration of the Member of the National Assembly, as provided for in paragraph 3 (a) or (b) the Representative of the List issues a notice of recall, as provided for in paragraph 3 (c)..
Granger said he also wanted to remind the population that the nomination of new members can be done, only after the extraction of names from the National Top-Up list is approved by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
“As such, the four ministers, Mr. Carl Greenidge, Mr. Joseph Harmon, Mr. Dominic Gaskin and Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine will remain ministers, until the aforementioned processes are completed,” the statement said, adding that the President, moreover, has not approved replacements at this time.
The statement revealed that three of the government ministers, “who have since resigned from the National Assembly, have indicated that they will renounce their foreign citizenship”. It did not name the ministers.
Meanwhile, in a statement, issued late last night, Cabinet said it was satisfied that the resignation of the four ministers, fully accords with the decision of the courts.
“For the ensuing period, as is the usual practice, these portfolios would now be held by sitting members of Cabinet, who previously acted for these ministers on leave or out of the jurisdiction.”
Cabinet added that while it is conceded that the Constitution strictly bars a person, who holds dual citizenship, from being an MP, “they are not precluded from remaining in government service”.
“This is a matter to be addressed by the President, who will finalize ways, in which the four resigned MPs will serve in government,” the Cabinet statement said, adding it was looking “forward to names being extracted from the…coalition’s list of candidates to fill the vacancies of the MPs, who have resigned their seats”.
Earlier this week, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo confirmed that opposition legislators with dual citizenship would not resign nor would they attend the sitting of the National Assembly on April 11.
“They will not be at any sitting of the National Assembly. So they don’t have to resign,” Jagdeo noted.
The opposition People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) legislators, who hold dual citizenship, are: Gail Teixeira, who has Guyanese and Canadian citizenship; while Odinga Lumumba and Adrian Annamayah have Guyanese and American citizenship.