Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond has responded to comments regarding her citizenship status and her eligibility to be a Member of Parliament.
See full statement below:
It is with considerable disappointment that I respond to comments in the public domain regarding my citizenship status and my eligibility to sit in the National Assembly. It was sobering to me, to see how, based on a statement that was nothing more than speculation and innuendo, the discourse on social media immediately descended into racial and sexual abuse.
It appears that too many of us Guyanese are not inclined to have reasoned and respectful disagreement on any issue. The statement placed in the public domain alleged that I may be a citizen of the United States of America. The statement further said that other unnamed persons have called on the Clerk of the National Assembly to verify my eligibility.
I acknowledge that the eligibility of persons who sit in the National Assembly is an issue that Guyanese have a right to be concerned about. I further acknowledge that the public has a right to know that the persons who sit in the National Assembly are qualified to do so.
On August 5, I was invited by His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Irfaan Ali to serve in his Cabinet. I accepted because I consider the opportunity to serve my people and my country at this capacity as both an honour and privilege.
As an Attorney-at-Law and being mindful of my status as a US Citizen, I sought the counsel of other attorneys on whether the sections of the constitution prohibiting elected members from being dual citizens applied to me as a technocrat minister. Despite advice that this provision did not extend to technocrats, out of an abundance of caution, I decided to renounce my citizenship to put the matter beyond all doubt and avoid any distraction to the good work of the government.
I wrote to the US Consular Office on August 18, renouncing my citizenship to the United States of America with immediate effect. I was thereof informed of the administrative procedure I must comply with to obtain a Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States. I complied with that process by August 27.
I have since received the Certificate of Loss of Nationality.
I took the oath to the National Assembly on September 1. That was after I renounced my citizenship of the United States of America. I do hope that the above serves to clarify any questions that may have been raised in light of the
comments in the public domain, and I publicly commit myself to work tirelessly to ensure that in the future, our Guyanese citizenship becomes one of the most sought after statuses in the world.
In closing, I reiterate that the most disappointing thing to me as a Guyanese citizen was to see the extent to which persons on social media sought to attack and vilify each other as they took positions on the issue. I want to use this moment to ask all of us to commit to doing our part in raising the standard of how we interact with each other in our everyday lives. That is an essential part of the effort of building the kind of nation that we would all choose to live in above any other.