With Guyana poised to become a major oil and gas producer in the region, Leader of the Alliance for Change (AFC) and Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, says amendments to 155 (1) (a) of the Constitution of Guyana becomes particularly critical at this stage of the country’s development.
This article states that, “No person shall be qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly who is, by virtue of his or her own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.”
Speaking at his party’s weekly News Conference at its head office in Georgetown, Mr. Trotman said the AFC, which is a key partner in the coalition government, has always said publicly that it wishes to have Diaspora representation not just in Parliament but also in Government.
He explained that, “It is going to do damage especially now that we are going into oil production. We have engineers and scientists working at NASA and in Norway and Canada and other parts who can make a contribution and I don’t believe that the framers of the constitution intended that we would lock the door to the Diaspora and we wouldn’t want to admit it but we cannot develop Guyana in the manner in which we wish to and in the way in which we want if we close the door to the Diaspora.”
Mr. Trotman, who previously held responsibility for the petroleum sector, said the Diaspora will play an important role in Guyana, as an oil and gas producer.
“When you think about roads, bridges, buildings and all the necessary infrastructural development, it is impossible for Guyana to be developed by a small group when the real talent or the critical mass of it resides outside of Guyana,” he stated.
He said any Guyanese, who wants to serve Guyana should be given the opportunity to do so, while pointing out that “The AFC does not have a policy of exclusion.”
“We are getting request from foreigners by the day. They are coming from Dubai, Saudia Arabia and so on and I believe that Guyanese should be given the opportunities first,” he pointed out.
Mr. Trotman said this issue will continue to be pushed by his party in Parliament.
The issue of dual citizenship came up after the December 21 no-confidence vote in Parliament, where the Government argued that expelled Member of Parliament (MP) Charandass Persaud’s vote could not have been carried on the basis of him being a dual citizen.
Both the High Court and Court of Appeal have ruled that the Members of Parliament (MP) with dual citizenship must give up their seats and those with dual citizenship and Ministers of Government must also resign from that post.
On Tuesday, April 2, the Government announced that four of its Government MPs with dual citizenship had resigned.
The four are; Minister of Business and Treasurer of the Alliance for Change, Dominic Gaskin, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge and Minister of Public Service, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine.
Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, at a news conference on Wednesday said his party’s Chief Whip in Parliament, Gail Teixeira, will be renouncing her Canadian citizenship, while another MP, Odinga Lumumba, has indicated that he will renounce his US Citizenship but has not started that process.