Walrond properly re-appointed, to be sworn in as MP
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Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister, Oneidge Walrond
Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister, Oneidge Walrond

— Attorney-General

By Richard Bhainie

THE Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, on Thursday, informed the Demerara High Court that Oneidge Walrond was appointment Parliamentarian prior to relinquishing of her US citizenship. The Attorney-General filed an affidavit on behalf of Waldrond, in which he outlined that her appointment as ‘Technocrat Minister’ predated her application for relinquishment of her nationality of the United States of America. Therefore, Walrond has since resigned and was properly re-appointed by President Irfaan Ali, on December 1, 2020 and will be sworn in at the next sitting of the National Assembly, as an unelected member thereof. The affidavit was filed in the matter, Christopher Jones v Oneidge Walrond, Speaker of the National Assembly and the Attorney-General, and was heard before the Chief Justice (ag) Roxanne George on Thursday morning.

The Attorney-General, Deputy Solicitor General, Debora Kumar and State Counsel, Chevy Devonish, appeared for First and Third Named Respondents while Roysdale Forde appeared for Jones. The decision was made in recognising the error on the Government’s part, and to avoid unnecessarily wasting the Judiciary’s time, resources and public funds; and in conformity with the Constitution and the Government’s respect for the Rule of Law. “Unlike in the recent past, this Government took expeditious remedial action in correcting an error of law that was made as soon as was reasonably practicable without the need for protracted, time consuming and unnecessary litigation,” the Attorney-General emphasised.

Nandlall submitted to the court that the legality of all actions and or decisions of Walrond prior to December 1, 2020, would be saved and cured by the De Facto Doctrine and the Doctrine of Necessity, which was upheld by the court. The ‘De Facto Officer Doctrine’ validates the acts of public officers who exercise the duties of an officer under color of an appointment or election to office, when it is later discovered that the legality of that person’s appointment or election to that office, is deficient. Meanwhile, the Doctrine of Necessity is invoked to protect officials, when actions designed to uphold fundamental constitutional principles, would be deemed to be in contravention to established norms or conventions.

The Opposition APNU+AFC Coalition on November 18 petitioned the High Court to order the removal of Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, as a Parliamentarian, contending she had taken the oath while she was still a US Citizen. Jones, the applicant, in his application also asked the court to declare that Walrond was unlawfully appointed a Minister of Government. Walrond had previously insisted that she was constitutionally sworn in as a parliamentarian on September 1, although she had signed an oath renouncing her US citizenship on September 4, 2020 In accordance to Article 155 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana “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.”

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