The People’s Progressive Party Civic this afternoon issued a statement in response to the Coalition Government’s announcement that four of Government’s senior officials – Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge; Minister of State, Joseph Harmon; Minister of Public Service, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine; and Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin – resigned from Parliament in order to preserve their dual citizenship status. The PPP/C’s statement reads as follows:
The Coalition Government is missing. The country is adrift in the absence of President David Granger and Coalition Government ministers who have busied themselves with planning campaign events and collecting perks. Crucial policy making to tackle major issues affecting our people is non-existent. All the while, Guyanese are losing jobs, welfare and are facing increased hardships.
In the face of all of this, a terse April 2, 2019 statement from the Ministry of the Presidency announced that that President David Granger “received and accepted the resignation of all Coalition Members of Parliament who are holders of dual citizenship” – a cryptic announcement that was not accompanied by clarity to several significant questions.
We are now in a deepened state of uncertainty. At the top of the list of unanswered questions is, who will take charge of the key Ministries headed by the Coalition Members of Parliament who have resigned, specifically the Ministry of Foreign Affairs? Other questions include: Who are all the Coalition Members of Parliament holding dual citizenship? Why were they not named? Are there more than four Coalition Members of Parliament with dual citizenship?
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is of the view the APNU+AFC Coalition Government changed direction after we pointed out the duplicity of the Coalition Government of arguing in the courts that the vote of former Parliamentarian, Charandass Persaud, should be invalidated for the no-confidence motion and arrogantly insisting that all Government Parliamentarians, including those holding dual citizenship, will be present for the anticipated sitting of the National Assembly on April 11, 2019, where they will continue to vote – votes that the Coalition would no doubt count as valid.
The PPP believes that the Coalition Government’s change in position is a ploy developed with the distant hope that it will strengthen their appeal at the CCJ. The Chief Justice (ag), Roxanne George-Wiltshire, was clear that ineligibility to sit as a Parliamentarian and invalidating the vote of a Parliamentarian who was ineligible to sit in the National Assembly are two separate things. Further, the Chief Justice (ag) was also clear that Article 165 (2) of the Constitution protects Persaud’s vote. Article 165 (2) states that: “The Assembly may act notwithstanding any vacancy in its membership (including any vacancy not filled when the Assembly first meets after the commencement of this Constitution or after any dissolution of Parliament) and the presence or participation of any person not entitled to participate in the proceedings of the Assembly shall not invalidate those proceedings.”
In the meantime, with the acceptance of the resignation of all Coalition Members of Parliament who are holders of dual citizenship, the PPP expresses the hope that that the sinecure positions will not, now, be created for the Coalition Members of Parliament who have resigned.