Despite her claims that she renounced her American citizenship before taking the oath as a Member of Parliament, the APNU+AFC Coalition has issued a call for the Minister of Tourism, Oneidge Waldron to resign over her dual citizenship.
In a statement on Saturday, the Minister admitted that she was still a dual citizen when she was sworn in as a technocrat Minister in August. However, she has also claimed that by the time she was sworn in as a Member of Parliament in September, she had already renounced her American citizenship. But she has provided no detail about the actual date that her renunciation might have been approved.
“I wrote to the US Consular Office on August 18, renouncing my citizenship to the United States of America with immediate effect. I was thereof informed of the administrative procedure I must comply with to obtain a Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States. I complied with that process by August 27. I have since received the Certificate of Loss of Nationality. I took the oath to the National Assembly on September 1. That was after I renounced my citizenship of the United States of America”, Minister Waldron stated in her release.
In response, the opposition APNU+AFC coalition pointed out that “a person’s dual citizenship comes to an end at the time of the dated renunciation certificate, NOT at the time when one decides to embark on the process”.
The coalition said it is very clear from Waldron’s own statement that at the time she became a Minister and was sworn in as a Member of Parliament, she was still a citizen of the United States.
APNU+AFC Member of Parliament and shadow Attorney General, Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde, also dismissed the contention that because Waldron is a non-elected Member of the National Assembly, the same rules governing elected members may not be applicable to her.
Mr. Forde said the Constitution and the Laws of Guyana are very clear on the issue. He said the same eligibility requirement that exists for an elected Member of Parliament is also applicable to non-elected members.
He said Article 103 (3) of the Constitution states that persons selected to serve as non-elected Members of the National Assembly and Parliamentary Secretaries must also be qualified to be elected as a Member of the National Assembly. The Attorney said the Constitution is very clear and Minister Waldron cannot therefore see herself as being in a vacuum because she is serving as a Technocrat (non-elected) Member of the National Assembly.
Senior Counsel Forde has indicated that the coalition intends to institute legal proceedings against the Minister and the Government on the issue.
He reminded that in the run up to the opening of parliament, the Clerk of the Assembly, dispatched letters to all members seeking assurance that they were not dual citizens and even requesting copies of certificates of renunciation from those who were dual citizens.
Throughout that period, there was no mention of Minister Waldron and the Clerk of the Assembly was never presented with any document to confirm her renunciation of her US Citizenship.
The issue of dual citizenship Member of the National Assembly and the Constitution’s clear position on the issue was ventilated in the Court following the 2018 vote of no-confidence against the APNU+AFC government.
In one of her rulings, the Chief Justice made it clear based on the Constitution of Guyana, dual citizens are not eligible to be Members of Parliament.
Four APNU+AFC government ministers were forced to resign following that ruling.