GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Tuesday January 15, 2018 – Two new political parties – one whose leader declared in advance that he has Canadian citizenship and plans to give it up – have been launched in Guyana to contest the next general elections that could be held this year.
The Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) and the Federal United Party (FED UP) were unveiled to the public over the weekend.
It is uncertain when an election will be held for them to contest, as the coalition government has challenged the outcome of a December 21, 2018 no-confidence motion which it lost when one of its members, Charrandass Persaud sided with the Opposition to result in the motion passing in the 65-member National Assembly.
But LJP leader, Lenox Shuman, who is also the party’s presidential candidate, has committed to relinquishing his Canadian citizenship, which he has held for almost 30 years, before the next polls are held.
“I am committed to making a difference in Guyana. As a Parliamentarian who swears to uphold the Constitution of Guyana, my first act cannot be to break the law. It is with this that I have a firm commitment, and principle, that I will be giving up my Canadian citizenship,” he said.
“I am taking this position because I do believe that what I have learnt in one of the best countries in the world can benefit my homeland, and it is what is required by the laws of Guyana.”
Shuman added that he loved Canada, and admitted that some friends and family believe it is “foolish” for him to renounce his citizenship. But he insisted that it is the right thing to do.
“I think it is something that people are struggling to understand,” he said.
The issue of MPs having dual citizenship came to the fore following the no confidence motion, as Persaud is also a Canadian citizen – one of the grounds on which the government is challenging the validity of the vote.
Article 155 of the Guyana Constitution states that: “No person shall be qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly who…by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.”
Meantime, attorney-at-law and former magistrate Chandra Sohan—who has been on the wrong side of the law, including last year being found guilty of failing to render assistance to an injured person with whom he was involved in an accident, and being charged with obstructing justice in another matter in 2017—; and fellow lawyers Ryan Crawford—charged in connection with an altercation he had with a police officer last September—and Horatio Edmondson are behind FED UP, which will be pushing for constitutional and electoral reform.
Party leader Sohan says racial politics has stifled the country, and FED UP wants to correct that.
The party has proposed dividing Guyana into three Regions, each having its own administration.