President Irfaan Ali while admitting that he has not seen a copy of the certificate of renunciation of US Citizenship for his Tourism Minister, indicated today that he is comfortable with her explanation on the issue.
“She is an honourable woman”, the President told reporters on Monday morning as he explained that he believes she did what had to be done with regards to her US citizenship as she took up a post in his cabinet.
“She advised the President of what had to be done in terms of the Constitution and I can tell you that she did it and she has her certificate and Minister Oneidge Waldron is an honourable woman”, President Ali said.
When questioned on whether she has provided a copy of her renunciation certificate to the Clerk of the National Assembly like other former dual citizens did, the President said he is unaware of that.
The Tourism Minister, Oneidge Waldron, in a statement over the weekend, admitted that she was still a US Citizen when she took up the post of Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce back in August.
She claimed that she started the renunciation process and it has since been completed. Minister Waldron was sworn in as a Member of Parliament in early September.
In her statement, she never provided the date for the completion of her renunciation and she also did not provide any detail about when the actual renunciation certificate was issued.
The Opposition APNU+AFC has called on her to resign since, according to the coalition, it is clear that she was a dual citizen when she took up the posts of Government Minister and Member of Parliament.
The coalition has 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 APNU+AFC 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.
The APNU+AFC has indicated that it will move to the Courts if Waldron does not resign from her position.
The issue of dual citizenship and Members 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.