Monday, January 05, 2009

Genuine dual citizenship debate urgently needed

How come no media house has raised the issue of dual citizenship in Guyanese politics. It's a debate taking place throughout the Caribbean and the trend as set out by court rulings has seen parliamentarians having to resign or give up their acquired status.

At the last election, the PPP/C, which has more than a dozen of its members holding dual citizenship, but serving important posts in Government and the Parliament, side stepped the issue.

The PPP/C stated that "all of its candidates on the lists are citizens who actually live and serve the country not only at Elections time, but even before, which is not the same for many political opponents contesting the Elections."

The AFC is tending to lean towards excluding dual citizenship holders from serving the Parliament, ahving riased the issue in their three times in the last two months in their weekly columns published in the Kaieteur News.

Sheila Holder penned: Unlike many persons in the top echelons of the PPP/C and to a lesser extent in the PNCR, none in the AFC leadership or, indeed, any of our parliamentarians, possess either landed immigrant status or a passport for any foreign country. This was not intended to be an idle boast; but to point out that the leadership of the AFC had as much to lose - or to gain - from whatever transpires in Guyana.

It is, therefore, in our best interest to work for national reconciliation and a stable social and political environment that would lead to racial harmony, while fulfilling our people’s desire for economic empowerment.

Were President Jagdeo and his Government to deliver on these essentials, the leadership of the AFC would have no need to pursue political activities for the purpose of opposing, exposing and deposing them in the expectation of better governance and management of the affairs of this State.

Regrettably, neither he nor his colleagues have demonstrated a willingness to put country above party and self interests. Regrettably, the leaders of the PPP/C do not appear to understand that leadership is not about brinkmanship, vindictiveness or assigning favoured treatment to some, but rather about being principled and doing the right things like upholding the laws of Guyana

Holder's two columns drew criticisms from Peter Ramsaroop, who him self holds citizenship to the United States.

Lately, I was surprised at the proposal by AFC parliamentarian, Sheila Holder, “anyone with dual citizenship is not allowed to serve in government or parliament”.

I totally disagree with such a proposal. We have senior Ministers such as Minister Ramsammy who has lived in Guyana for decades and has dedicated his life to serving Guyana.
To now say he cannot serve in Government is a slap to all Guyanese that may have left our shores and returned or even still, contribute to the development of our nation.

I am for a national consultation on allowing Guyanese around the world to be allowed to vote via absentee ballot.

Accountability and Transparency will first need to be established. I have moved back to Guyana and will have my seven years I need in order to aspire to the top job in Guyana. I would argue with anyone that I have not put my life, assets and commitment back into Guyana in order to improve the lives of our citizens.

Let us change this mentality that because you left Guyana for better opportunities you are no longer welcome. The worse treatment I received when I returned to Guyana was when a senior government official, Mr. Geoff DaSilva, said on Christopher Ram Show that “I should return to whence I came”.

A few weeks later, another AFC official responded. Khemraj Ramjattan, a lawyer, put a legal spin on the debate.

Nelson J.A. pointed out the jurisprudential underpinnings thus: “the provision was designed to ensure that MPs did not have a split allegiance and were not, as far as possible, subject to any improper influence from foreign governments…The purpose is to prevent persons with foreign loyalties or obligations from being MPs.”

Michael De La Bastide C.J. ruled similarly: “Dual citizenship may create split loyalties and the potential for a conflict of interest, which are better avoided in the case of an MP even though acceptable in the case of an ordinary citizen”.

These dicta will apply to Guyana whose constitutional provision is almost in exact terms with T.T. and Jamaica. This is thus our law! When it is contravened, should someone who wants to pick it up and run with not say so? Sheila felt so and ran with it; and, that is principled.


  1. I recall there was a mini debate on the issue some time ago with reference to Leslie Ramsammy's dual citizenship but agreed - it must be debated thoroughly in the public domain.

  2. To say that dual citizenship will only lead to split loyalties and conflict of interest is preposterous. Wake up Guyana! The Guyanese economy is incredibly weak and so I believe that anyone who returns to Guyana, does so out of genuine love for their country. We Guyanese should get out of the mentality that those living abroad are not capable of being potential assets to this country. If we continue treating such fellow Guyanese with disdain, we will end up shying away young, talented, ambitious individuals who dream of returning to serve their country one day. (I should know. Sadly, I have been a victim of this very mentality.)-Marcia Mohabir.

  3. Does a naturalized Guyanese-US citizen loses his/her Guyana citizenship?

  4. Does anyone know if guyanese people witha Guyanese passport can hold dual nationality with the UK? My research suggests that the two countires do not allow it but i dont know why.