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…hours after court ruled her appointment unconstitutional
Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon has written the Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir seeking the removal of Attorney-at-Law Oneidge Walrond as a Member of Parliament (MP), in light of the High Court’s ruling that her appointments, both as Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce and MP, were unconstitutional.
On Thursday, Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George ruled that Walrond is an unlawful Member of the National Assembly, and that her initial appointment as a Minister of Government was in breach of the Constitution due to her foreign status at the time. Walrond was sworn in as a Member of Parliament on September 1 while being a citizen of the United States of America (USA) in breach of Article 155 of the Constitution, which prohibits dual citizens from being appointed Parliamentarians.
“Having regard to the foregoing we are demanding that Ms. Walrond Allicock be removed as a Member of Parliament and all of her participation and contribution in the National Assembly be expunged from the records,” the Opposition Leader said in his letter to the Speaker dated December 10, 2020.
According to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States, Walrond took the Oath of Renunciation on September 4, 2020 while the Certificate of Loss of Nationality was approved on September 8. She was initially sworn in as a Minister on August 5, and a Member of Parliament on September 1.
Notwithstanding the fact that the issue of dual citizenship has been a front burner issue since the passage of the No-Confidence Motion in December 2018, with several Courts ruling that it is unconstitutional Parliamentarians to be dual citizens, Walrond, in an Affidavit to the Court, said she had no knowledge that her appointment as a Minister on August 5 would have been unlawful.
Attorney General Anil Nandlall, who during the court proceedings on Thursday had admitted that Walrond’s appointments collided with the Constitution, indicated to the Court that Walrond was made to take the Oath-of-Office for a second time before President Irfaan Ali on December 1, 2020, and that once Parliament reconvenes, she will be sworn in again as an unelected Member of Parliament.
On the sideline of a presidential event at the European Union (EU) Ambassador’s residence, Nandlall the told reporters that contributions made by Walrond during her ‘illegal’ stay in Parliament and Office would be covered by the “de facto doctrine.” According to the de facto doctrine, actions taken by a public officer would be regarded as being valid in law in certain circumstances though his or her own appointment is invalid.
“The Opposition knows that the de facto doctrine will cure everything,” the Attorney General said while referencing to the case of Charrandas Persuad, who following the December 2018 No-Confidence Motion was found to be a dual citizen. He had also appointed out that a number of government and opposition Members of Parliament, including Harmon, were made to resign from Parliament having been dual citizens.