Constitutionally correct

Jan 17, 2020 ggektjdq

first_imgDear Editor,There is a question which is boggling the mind of every Guyanese and one to which our legal “experts” are giving diverse interpretations: Was Charrandas Persaud, as a Member of Parliament, an alien pledging allegiance to a foreign power or state?Article 155 (1) states that, “No person shall be qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly who: (a) is by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state”. It is now common knowledge that Charrandas has held dual citizenship for a number of years and had re-migrated from Canada more than 20 years ago. Since then and until now he has not renounced his Canadian citizenship or his Guyanese citizenship. But can he be classified as an “alien” to Guyana? Article 232 (1) of our Constitution makes it undoubtedly clear that, “In this Constitution, except as otherwise provided or required by the context -“alien” means a person who is not a Commonwealth citizen, a British protected person or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland”. It must be stated here that Canada is a member of the Commonwealth, therefore, its citizens cannot be branded as “aliens”.This is also supported by Article 159 (2)(b) which states that a person can vote if he/she is a Commonwealth citizen who is not a citizen of Guyana and who is domiciled and resident in Guyana and has been a resident for a period of one year. Therefore, this person is given the same status as a citizen of Guyana. In this case Charrandas is a citizen of Guyana so why should he not be elected as a member of the National Assembly? He took the Oath of Office and he pledged “true faith and allegiance to the People of Guyana” and he will “honor, uphold and preserve the Constitution of the Co-operative of Guyana”. He did not violate the Constitution, he is not an “alien” and Canada cannot be deemed to be a “foreign power or state”.A distinction must be drawn here. It is accepted that because of the common culture and heritage shared among Commonwealth countries they are not deemed to be “aliens” and “foreign” to each other. However, while some countries see no difference between Commonwealth and foreign countries, other countries treat Commonwealth citizens as they would their own once certain criteria are met. In other words, Canada will be deemed a foreign power to Australia although both are Commonwealth countries. On the other hand, some countries like Guyana do not treat Commonwealth citizens as “aliens” and their countries as “foreign power or state” since the Guyanese Constitution allowed them to vote at the elections. This “right to vote” cannot be taken lightly. It is significant since only citizens of Guyana are given that status. Our Constitution, the Supreme Law of the land, has made it conclusive that a Commonwealth citizen is not an “alien”!Furthermore, Article 53 (a) is not breached since Charrandas is a citizen of Guyana and is duly elected to serve in the National Assembly. In addition, Article 156 (c) does not apply since he has not ceased to be a citizen of Guyana and no circumstance arose which would have caused him to cease to be a member of the National Assembly.It follows then that Charrandas Persaud was a duly elected member of the National Assembly and his “yes” vote in favor of the famous “no-confidence” motion is legally and constitutionally correct. Moreover, the framers of the Constitution knew perfectly why Article 52 provided for the National Assembly to be comprised of 65 members – 33 is the majority!Yours sincerely,Haseef YusufRDC CouncillorRegion Sixlast_img

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