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The 12th Parliament has begun. Guyanese remember only too well how the 11th Parliament ended. A then Coalition Government supporter, sitting in the National Assembly, joined with the Opposition, People’s Progressive Party/Civic, to pass a no-confidence motion against the government he had consistently heralded for doing a good job, including in the sugar industry that he later claimed was his reason for casting his vote to remove his government from office.
Apart from the sense of betrayal felt by supporters of that government his vote laid bare for the world to see the constitutional deception of Members of Parliament (MP). According to Article 155 (1) (a) of the Guyana Constitution, “No person shall be qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly who- is, by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.” Each potential MP sworn to an affidavit to be a Candidate on the List of Representatives, which includes affirmation that they hold no allegiance to any foreign power as quoted here.
That particular MP, having dual citizenship (Canadian), not only lied under oath but was also able to use that deception to secure the protection of a foreign power to flee the country immediately after casting his vote. Some would like Guyanese to believe the swiftness of his departure for Canada was not a carefully orchestrated plan, even in light of the precision under which it was executed and departure facilitated by the members of both the diplomatic community and private sector. It had all the characteristics of espionage which raises justifiable fear of the consequences of serving two masters at the same time.
Another concern is that those who make the laws (parliamentarians) somehow think they are above the laws. This is hubris at its worst. In the age of international terrorism, destabilising government by foreign forces to exploit a nation’s rich resources, and collaboration of foreign and local powers to achieve regime change in order to exploit these resources, allegiance pledged to another sovereign nation makes facilitation easier.
The gravity of the situation cannot be ignored when a Guyanese would sit in Guyana’s highest decision making forum (institution) and could be influenced not by the good of Guyana but by ulterior motive that can undermine the interest of the nation state. Those MPs in the 11th Parliament that sought to renounce their dual citizenship took a step in the right direction. Their action is seen as penitence and reaffirming their commitment to Guyana.
At the first sitting of this Parliament, the Clerk of the National Assembly reported he was in receipt of a denouncement certificate from Ms. Gail Teixeira and had to request that of Messrs. Joseph Harmon and Lenox Shuman. Mr. Harmon has since submitted his and Mr. Shuman promised to do so by this weekend.
In the first instance, no MP should have been sworn in without the Clerk being in receipt of the denouncement certificate. It is a demonstration of arrogance and disregard for the Constitution to take on oath of office to obey the Constitution and the vexatious issue of dual citizenship was not put to rest before taking this oath.
Guyanese look forward to the Clerk informing us in the new week whether or not Mr. Shuman has lived up to his legal obligation, by having all documentation prior to him being listed as a candidate to enter the National Assembly, for it cannot be dated after the affidavit was signed. And if not, what efforts will be made to ensure the situation is corrected forthwith.