The presidential candidate for the newly-formed Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), Lenox Shuman on Wednesday said he has applied to give up his Canadian citizenship, but he did not know how long the process would take.
Shuman, a former Vice Chairman of the National Toshaos Council (NTC), said that with general and regional elections unlikely to be held this month, he would fulfill the seven-year residency requirement to be eligible to contest the next polls.
He said although he had been employed elsewhere does not mean he had failed to reside in Guyana. He added that in 2015, he contested village elections one of which legal requirements is that the contestant must reside in the community three years before. He recalled also serving as Village Chief for three years.
“The only way I would not be eligible in that sense would be if they call elections I would say by the end of March which I don’t think that they are going to do right now. If they did that, it would put me one month shy of seven years,” he said in response to questions from Demerara Waves Online News.
Guyana’s High Court recently reinforced that the constitution prohibits dual citizens from being political candidates or parliamentarians.
The Canadian government website does not say how long the renunciation of citizenship takes, but says the authorities can accommodate an urgent request.
Shuman believes that once the application is made and he has surrendered his Canadian passport, that that would be sufficient evidence that he has given up his Canadian citizenship.”Let’s assume that it takes a while, I think the fact that my paperwork would have left my legal counsel would say that I have relinquished that commitment. The acknowledgement by the Canadian government? That’s the part I cannot speak of,” he said.
He plans to surrender his Canadian passport before the end of March.
While the Canadian government says a certificate and a confirmation of renunciation would be provided, Shuman said he was unaware that he would be provided with any documentation. “I don’t know if there is a requisite document that is issued in all honesty because once I relinquish my document, the Canadian government has no obligation to me (to) do anything,” he added.
He conceded that the process could take a while and it is not merely submitting an application. Shuman said his application would be handled by a Canadian law firm.
Shuman said his decision to renounce his Canadian citizenship indicates his commitment to Guyana. “I challenge anyone who questions my patriotism to say that they would have seen the same commitment from both parties,” he said, adding that government and opposition parliamentarians who are dual citizens have not given up their foreign citizenship. “That is a clear violation of the constitution,” he said.
Guyana’s Attorney General, Basil Williams recently said there was no need to replace government’s dual citizen parliamentarians because the High Court has ruled that they could be challenged by an elections petition for which the deadline has long past.
Government’s dual citizen parliamentarians are Guyanese-Britons Carl Greenidge, Dominic Gaskin and Rupert Roopnaraine, and Guyanese-American Joseph Harmon.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has said his People’s Progressive Party (PPP) would replace its dual citizen parliamentarians. They are Guyanese-Canadian Gail Teixeira, and Guyanese-Americans Odinga Lumumba and Adrian Annamayah.