By Ravin Singh
Presidential Candidate of the newly-formed Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), Lenox Shuman has made a commitment to relinquish his Canadian citizenship as he prepares to contest the upcoming elections.
Shuman made the announcement at his party’s official launch on Saturday evening at the Georgetown Club.
Article 155 of the Constitution stipulates that: “No person shall be qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly who- (a) is by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state…”
Despite this, it is believed that a number of current Parliamentarians have dual-citizenship.
Shuman, who has been a citizen of Canada for over 28 years, said that before the next general elections, which he will be contesting in, he will give up his citizenship.
“I am committed to making a difference in Guyana. As a Parliamentarian who swears to uphold the Constitution of Guyana, my first act cannot be to break the law. It is with this that I have a firm commitment, and principle, that I will be giving up my Canadian citizenship” Shuman announced to a packed house of supporters.
He later told reporters that he does not know the process of relinquishing it, but that he has reached out to the Canadian High Commissioner and is expected to meet with her as soon as Monday.
“I don’t know the process. I have to have a discussion with the Canadian High Commissioner and the Government of Guyana. I anticipate by Monday or so we will have those discussions” he shared.
The former Toshao, who is also a trained airline pilot, said too that the issue has been a major one for him, as family and friends have since described his move as “foolish”.
However, he maintained that he remains committed to upholding the constitution, and will not be deterred.
The issue of dual-citizenship of MPs resurfaced recently after deposed government MP Charrandass Persaud supported an opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion which could lead to elections in the coming months. Persaud is a citizen of Canada.
Meanwhile, the LJP leader refused to disclose the names of his party’s financiers.
“I cannot disclose that. I cannot” he told Reporters, adding the funders are not unwilling to be identified because of the fear of victimization by the public.
He added too that so far, the party has turned away over $100M in donations because the source could not be traced.
“We have turned away over $100M so far. Why? Because of the source. We don’t know where the money is coming from. We don’t know if the businesses are legitimate or if they are trying to launder money through us. And we don’t want that. We have to do due diligence” the Presidential Candidate said.
He was keen to note however, that the LJP was not being funded by any of the major political parties.
But while refusing to disclose the source of his funding, Shuman said that he believes there should be campaign finance legislation. He said that it is an issue which the two major political parties have refused to talk about, but one which he is inclined to support.