Cabinet Changes in Guyana As Resignations of Ministers with Dual Citizenship Take Effect

President David Granger making the announcements in an address to the nation.

UPDATE: Mervin Williams, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, Donna Mathoo and Reynard Ward were later in the day sworn in as replacements for the four MPs who resigned.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday April 26, 2019 – President David Granger has announced replacements for three of the four ministers who resigned from his Parliament over their dual citizenship.

In an address to the nation, he said the resignations offered earlier this month by Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge, Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin, Minister of State in the Ministry of the Presidency Joseph Harmon, and Minister of the Public Service in the Ministry of the Presidency Dr Rupert Roopnaraine took effect yesterday.

“I thank these Ministers for their stewardship as members of my Cabinet and of the National Assembly since May 2015.  Their sterling public service has been to our nation’s benefit,” Granger said in his address yesterday.

Although he announced that Haimraj Rajkumar replaces Gaskin as Minister of Business, Dawn Hamstings-Williams is new Minister of State in the Ministry of the Presidency, and Tabitha Sarabo-Halley takes over as Minister of the Public Service in the Ministry of the Presidency, Granger made no mention of a new Foreign Affairs Minister.

Neither did he say who would replace the four in the National Assembly which meets today.

Their resignations came on the heels of a High Court judgment on January 31, which was affirmed by a majority decision of the Court of Appeal on March 22, that it is unconstitutional for a person holding dual citizenship to be elected as a Member of Parliament.

The first declaration came as the Chief Justice upheld the no-confidence motion passed against the coalition government on December 21st last year. The Court of Appeal, although agreeing on the dual citizenship issue, subsequently ruled that the motion was invalid and the Opposition People’s Progressive Party which had filed the motion and got the support of government backbencher Charrandass Persaud to pass it, has appealed to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) which will hear the matter on May 9 and 10.

President Granger said his acceptance of the resignations of the four ministers and the Cabinet reassignments were in keeping with the rulings of the High Court and Court of Appeal.

“I have a duty to ensure that the Government acts in accordance with the Constitution at all times,” he said.

“The Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana is the country’s supreme law. Adherence to the Constitution is an essential element of democratic governance and the maintenance of public trust.  Your Government is committed to upholding the Constitution unreservedly.”

Granger also announced a reassignment of junior ministers.

Annette Ferguson is Minister in the Ministry of Communities, with responsibility for Housing; Simona Charles-Broomes is Minister in the Ministry of the Presidency with responsibility for Youth Affairs; and Valerie Patterson-Yearwood is Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture with responsibility for Rural Affairs.

“I assure you that these appointments and reassignments will ensure your Government’s continued commitment to serve our people and the nation,” the President said.

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