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Probe parliamentarians’ citizenship declarations – Chris Ram asks Police Commissioner

Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram.

Political commentator, Attorney-at-Law Christopher Ram on Monday complained to Police Commissioner, Leslie James about the possible violation of Guyana’s constitution and other laws by seven government and opposition parliamentarians who are dual citizens.

“I therefore look forward to your commencing immediate investigation, such as was conducted in respect of Mr. Charrandass Persaud, into whether the persons named earlier are guilty of making false declarations as envisaged under the Statutory Declarations Act and to take such other action as you consider necessary and appropriate in the circumstances,” Ram said

“In view of the grave nature of this matter, I implore you to undertake the investigation with all convenient speed and diligence and to take such action as is necessary and appropriate to prevent the further subversion of our country’s key democratic institutions,” Ram added.

Citing the constitution, Representation of the People Act and the Statutory Declarations Act, Ram asked the Police Commissioner to probe whether opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) parliamentarians, Adrian Anamayah, Odinga Lumumba, and Gail Teixeira as well as government parliamentarians Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge; Minister of State, Joseph Harmon and Minister of Public Service Rupert Roopnarine made false declarations.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has said that Teixeira was willing to give up her Canadian citizenship. Annamayah, he said, is also a dual citizen. Harmon and Lumumba are Guyanese-Americans, and Gaskin, Greenidge and Roopnarine are Guyanese-Britons. Jagdeo has also said the PPP’s dual citizen parliamentarians would be replaced if the House has to meet again to discuss matters concerning the holding of general elections.

Ram highlighted that Section 11 (3) of the Representation of the People Act states that “A list of candidates [for election to the National Assembly] shall set out the names, one below the other in such order as each party may determine of the surnames and other names, of at least 42 persons qualified to be elected to the National Assembly and who have consented to the inclusion of their names in the list as candidates for election, together with the address and occupation of each such person.” Also, Section 11 (4) of the said Act goes on to state that “Each list of candidates shall be accompanied by a statutory declaration, in Form 3, by each person named therein as a candidate of his qualifications and consent, made before a justice of the peace, commissioner of oaths, notary
public or other person authorised by law to administer an oath in the place where the declaration is made.”

High Court decisions on several cases concerning the passage of the December 21, 2018 no-confidence motion after then government lawmaker, Guyanese-Canadian Charrandass Persaud crossed the floor, reinforced that dual citizens are barred from being candidates or parliamentarians.

“You, as Commissioner of Police, will immediately appreciate that the Constitution is the country’s supreme law and is underpinned by the rule of law (see Preamble thereto). Moreover, those who seek election to the National Assembly – one of whose powers is to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the country – have a special duty to comply with the Constitution and the other laws of the country and to set an example to the ordinary citizens of the country. It is important for the rule of law that such breaches ought not to be met with impunity,” Ram told the Police Commissioner.

Ram, who hosts the weekly Plain Talk television interview programme, is worried that the Foreign Affairs Minister, being a dual citizen, might not always be acting in Guyana’s best interest, and that Harmon has been pronouncing on the reason for the National Assembly meeting again.