Apr 26, 2019 News
Four months after a shock no-confidence vote against the government by one of its parliamentarians, Charrandass Persaud, rocked Guyana, the fallout is continuing.
While government has challenged the validity of the vote, the court cases saw questions raised about the issue of dual citizenship.
It was found that four ministers- Joseph Harmon, Carl Greenidge, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine and Dominic Gaskin- also had
At least three Opposition parliamentarians – Odinga Lumumba, Gail Teixeira and Adrian Anamayah – also have dual citizenship. They have reportedly resigned.
According to President David Granger, yesterday, the changes are in keeping with Coalition’s upholding of the Constitution of Guyana. However, there were no details, in his statement, of what would happen to the four ministers who have resigned their positions as parliamentarians and as a result could no longer be ministers.
“Adherence to the Constitution is an essential element of democratic governance and the maintenance of public trust,” Granger explained.
He referred to the ruling of the Chief Justice, Roxane George, SC, in the case of Compton Reid vs Speaker of the National Assembly et al which declared on 31st January 2019, that it was unconstitutional for a person holding dual citizenship to be
elected as a Member of Parliament. “This ruling was affirmed by a majority decision of the Court of Appeal on 22nd March, 2019.
I have a duty to ensure that the Government acts in accordance with the Constitution at all times.”
The President said that he has, in accordance with the courts’ rulings, accepted the resignations of Carl Greenidge, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dominic Gaskin, Minister of Business; Joseph Harmon, Minister of State in the Ministry of the Presidency and Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, Minister of the Public Service in the Ministry of the Presidency.
These resignations took effect yesterday, 25thApril, 2019. The men are all seasoned campaigners.
Insiders indicated that they will likely be retained as advisors, with Harmon tipped to be appointed head of the Ministry of the Presidency.
Gaskin is the President’s son-in-law, but not part of A Partnership for National Unity, which forms the larger part of the
Coalition Government. Rather, he is from Alliance For Change, the smaller faction of the Coalition.
“I thank these Ministers for their stewardship as members of my Cabinet and of the National Assembly since May 2015. Their sterling public service has been to our nation’s benefit.
The resignations of these Ministers have created vacancies in the Cabinet and the National Assembly. It is necessary, in the circumstances, for their ministerial responsibilities to be reassigned and for the transfer of some junior ministers.”
According to the President, Haimraj Rajkumar is the new Minister of Business.
He is on the AFC’s Regional Management Committee for Region 2.
Replacing Harmon as Minister of State will be Dawn Hastings-Williams. She was at the Ministry of Communities.
Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, a senior official of the Working People’s Alliance, was named as the Minister of the Public Service in
the Ministry of the Presidency. She replaced Dr. Roopnaraine.
Meanwhile, Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson, is being moved across to the Ministry of Communities. She will take charge of Housing.
The Housing Department has been under a cloud in recent times after it was learnt that the husband of Minister Valerie Patterson-Yearwood benefitted from contracts from the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), a unit that fell under her.
Patterson-Yearwood has been moved to the Ministry of Agriculture with responsibility for Rural Affairs.
Another minister, Simona Charles-Broomes, the Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, is also being moved. She will serve as the Minister in the Ministry of the Presidency with responsibility for Youth Affairs.
“I assure you that these appointments and reassignments will ensure your Government’s continued commitment to serve our people and the nation,” Granger said yesterday.
The changes would come as the Caribbean Court of Justice gets ready for a May 9th and 10th hearing of the no-confidence cases.
If the CCJ rules that the vote was valid, Guyana will, according to the Constitution, have to hold elections early. The Government will have to resign.
Meanwhile, the AFC in a separate statement congratulated Rajkumar on being appointed Minister of Business.
“Rajkumar replaces Dominic Gaskin, the AFC Treasurer, who served as Minister of Business from May 2015 to date. The party thanks Gaskin for his stellar service both as Minister of Business and Member of Parliament and looks forward to his continued engagement in the development of Guyana.”
Leader of the party, Raphael Trotman, according to the statement, also commended his former ministerial colleagues who “voluntarily agreed” to accept and uphold the requirements of the Constitution.
“The party also congratulates Working People’s Alliance executive Tabitha Sarabo-Halley on her appointment as Minister of Public Service. Haimraj Bernard Rajkumar will celebrate his 53rd birthday tomorrow (today), April 26th, having been born in 1966, Guyana’s year of independence.”
Rajkumar has been a practising attorney for 12 years.
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