Last Updated on Friday, 6 November 2020, 13:59 by Denis Chabrol
Tourism Minister Oneidge Walrond appeared to have taken the oath of office as a parliamentarian before she had lost her United States (US) citizenship, but the Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs stayed clear of saying whether she has breached Guyana’s constitution.
In the Certificate of Loss of Nationality released by the Clerk of the National Assembly, it shows that Ms. Walrond lost her citizenship on Sept 4, 2020.
She was sworn in as a minister on August 5, and took the oath as a member of the National Assembly on September 1, 2020.
But the Clerk of the Assembly said based on legal advice obtained, he merely informed Attorney-at-Law Roysdale Forde, who threatened legal action on behalf of Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon on the issue and released the documents submitted by Ms. Walrond.
Mr. Isaacs noted, however, that “Ms. Walrond lost her nationality to the United States of America immediately upon taking the said oath of renunciation.” A US Embassy official has confirmed that American citizenship is lost immediately on taking the oath.
Minister Walrond had previously issued a statement, saying that after President Irfaan Ali invited her on August 5 to become a member of his Cabinet , she on August 18 “wrote to the US Consular Office on August 18, renouncing my citizenship to the United States of America with immediate effect.”
US law requires persons wishing to renounce their citizenship to do so in person before a consular officer, not in writing.
Ms. Waldron has said that by August 27 she had complied with the administrative procedure to obtain a Certificate of Loss of Nationality which she has since received. No date has been provided.
Guyana’s Courts have ruled that it is unconstitutional for holders of dual citizenship to become parliamentarians. That had been a contested point after then government parliamentarian, Guyanese-Canadian Charrandass Persaud, had voted in favour of an opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion in December, 2018.
After the court rulings, then government parliamentarians Joseph Harmon, Rupert Roopnaraine, Carl Greenidge and Dominic Gaskin had resigned. Mr. Harmon and Mr. Greenidge have since said they have renounced their American and British citizenships.