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APNU+AFC warns Minister Oneidge Walrond of legal action over American citizenship

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 October 2020, 17:03 by Denis Chabrol

The opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Saturday afternoon called on Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond to release her loss of American citizenship certificate to prove  that when she became a parliamentarian she was not a dual citizen.

“Even if she is in the right, she must release her certificate of renunciation, release it to the public, let us see it and she can bring the issue to an end but having regard to what she said in the press release and having regard to the fact to date, even in the face of all this public outcry, she has withheld her certificate of renunciation sends its own signals,” APNU+AFC Shadow Attorney General Roysdale Forde told a news briefing.

Insisting that by her own account Ms. Walrond was still an American when she took the oath as a Minister, Mr. Forde said the coalition would go to court to challenge the constitutionality of Ms. Walrond’s status as a parliamentarian. “When we look at the law says, she is definitely not qualified and that will be the basis for us instituting proceedings and it will also be the basis for Ms. Walrond to do the right and proper thing which is to resign as a member of the National Assembly,” he said.

Mr. Forde said the coalition would not be giving the Minister an ultimatum to resign because he claimed she was aware from the day she the oath as a parliamentarian as “she has no right to be there.”

He argued that the issue had been ventilated in Guyana’s Courts and the Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs had asked to indicate whether they had been dual citizens. Mr. Forde said legal action would also not be hinged on the Clerk of the National Assembly seeking timelines about the renunciation of her American citizenship.

Up to late Saturday afternoon, the Minister did not respond to specific questions about  when the renunciation process was completed and when the Certificate of Loss of Nationality was issued. She said President Irfaan Ali asked her on August 5 to serve in his Cabinet and 13 days later she renounced her citizenship. “I wrote to the US Consular Office on August 18, renouncing my citizenship to the United States of America with immediate effect,” she said in a statement. A number of US State Department websites say the renunciation process can take three to six months. She said she was subsequently  informed of the administrative procedure I must comply with to obtain a Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States. She said she complied with that process by August 27 and she has since received the Certificate of Loss of Nationality.

Ms. Walrond took the oath of office on September 1, 2020.

President Irfaan Ali on Saturday, when asked whether Ms. Walrond had given up her American citizenship before she had been sworn in, said “I know that she gave up the status; that’s what I know. From the time we announced the Cabinet, I am sure that all members, all the members were in line. They knew what they had to do and they would have already done what they had to do,” he said.