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Candidates embroiled in dual citizenship saga to remain on lists -GECOM

The three candidates for next month’s general and regional council elections, who had been caught up in the saga over their eligibility because of their dual citizenship status, will not be removed from their lists, a spokeswoman for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) said Wednesday.

“The commission decided yesterday that they will remain on the list,” Yolanda Ward told News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/Demerara Waves Online News.

A well-placed source said GECOM Chairman, Retired Justice Claudette Singh decided to leave the names of the Leader of the United Republican Party (URP), Vishnu Bandhu; the Leader of the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), Lenox Shuman, and the Leader of the People’s Republic Party (PRP), Dr. Valerie Leung on their lists of candidates.

Bandhu received his renunciation certificate dated January 16, 2020, six days after Nomination Day. An aide to the GECOM Chairman told News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM that “Madam Chair received a photocopy of a certificate of renunciation dated 9th January, 2020 from Mr. Shuman’s Counsel”, and Leung’s certificate was dated January 21.

News-Talk Radio Guyana/Demerara Waves Online News was told by a reliable source that after a “snafu” by virtue of the failure of GECOM officials to reject those nominees and the failure of the Guyana Police Force to advise GECOM on its next steps after the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield’s complaint, a decision was taken to leave the names of the trio on the list.

Vishnu Bandhu

The issue of dual citizenship has taken centre stage for the March 2, 2020, general elections after the Guyana Court of Appeal last year ruled definitively that it is unconstitutional for holders of dual nationality to be candidates or parliamentarians. This point had arisen to challenge the December 2018 no-confidence motion that was passed after Guyanese-Canadian Charrandass Persaud had voted with the opposition to secure its successful 33-32 passage in the 65-seat National Assembly.

After that decision, then-government ministers – Carl Greenidge, Joseph Harmon, Rupert Roopnaraine and Dominic Gaskin – had resigned because they were holders of dual citizenship. Greenidge and Harmon have since publicly declared that they have since given up their British and American citizenships. Gaskin was born in Britain, and Roopnaraine is not a candidate for the upcoming polls.