-resignations of four ministers will not take immediate effect
The Ministry of the Presidency has announced that three parliamentarians for the Coalition Government will renounce their foreign citizenship.
The three senior ministers, from A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), which forms the larger faction of the Coalition Government, are Minister of State, Joseph Harmon; Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge and Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, who has charge over Public Service.
Greenidge and Roopnaraine both have citizenship for the United Kingdom while Harmon has for the United States.
Until now, Government has said that it will await the final decision of the region’s highest court – it is now at the Caribbean Court of Justice – before making a move.
The issue of dual citizenship arose after a no-confidence motion was carried in the National Assembly on December 21st, triggering early elections, according to the Constitution of Guyana.
However, the Coalition Government challenged the legality of the vote in the 65-seat National Assembly arguing that the absolute majority of 34 is needed to carry it and not 33.
They also argued that the vote of the Government parliamentarian, Charrandass Persaud, who joined with the Opposition in helping to pass the motion, was not legal because he had not right to be in the National Assembly since he had dual citizenship with Canada, a conflict with Constitution.
Both the High Court and Court of Appeal have agreed that no person with dual citizenship can sit as a member of the National Assembly. It was later found that a number of Members of Parliament (MPs) on both sides of the House had dual citizenship.
On Tuesday, it was announced by Government that President David Granger had accepted the resignation of four of his ministers as they all had dual citizenship. By virtue of those resignations as MPs, the ministers would have also not been able to continue to function as ministers.
The ministers who resigned included the three named above and Dominic Gaskin, who holds the portfolio of Minister of Business. Gaskin is the son-in-law of President Granger but belongs to the Alliance For Change, the smaller of the two factions that forms the Government.
The government statement on Tuesday said that other ministers would perform the functions of the ministers who resigned. It will also disclosed that government is contemplating rehiring the ministers in other positions.
Yesterday, government in another statement, retreating from Tuesday’s announcement, said that the resignations from Parliament will not take immediate effect.
“President David Granger, this morning, stated that while he has accepted the resignation of the four coalition government Members of Parliament, their resignations will not take effect immediately as there are several processes, which have to be applied.”
According to the Ministry of the Presidency, the Head of State made it clear that the replacement of MPs can be done only when those MPs submit their letters of resignation to the Speaker of the National Assembly as is prescribed by the Constitution of Guyana.
It was pointed out that 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.”
The Ministry of the Presidency also pointed out that Article 156 (3) further says a member of the National Assembly elected on a list shall cease to be a member of the Assembly if he or she declares in writing to the Speaker or to the Representative of the List from which his or her name was extracted that he or she will not support the list from which his or her name was extracted; or he or she declares 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.
“Additionally, Article 156 (4) (a) says, “The Speaker shall declare the seat of a Member of the National Assembly vacant where – the Speaker receives a written declaration of the Member of the National Assembly…”
The ministry said that the President reminded 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.”
It was disclosed that the President, moreover, has not approved replacements at this time.
The ministry said that the resignation of the ministers is in keeping with the Constitution of Guyana as well as the March 22, 2019 ruling of the Court of Appeal relative to the validity of the no-confidence motion passed on December 21, 2018.
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