Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Three presidential candidates barred from contesting March 2 poll

Published:Thursday | January 23, 2020 | 12:14 AM

GEORGETOWN (CmC):

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) says it has removed three presidential candidates who had been nominated to contest the March 2 regional and general election.

GECOM said the decision to remove the Liberty and Justice Party candidate Lenox Shuman, United Republic Party candidate Dr Vishnu Bhandu and People’s Republic Party candidate Dr Valerie Leung was taken during a statutory meeting on Tuesday.

It said that all three held dual citizenship at the time of their declarations on January 10, nomination day.

They could all face criminal charges, since the Guyana constitution prevents anyone who has pledged allegiance to another country to contest elections for a seat in parliament.

Notifying police

“The police were written, or should have been written, with respect to these persons who have made false declarations in respect of their dual-citizen status,” GECOM Commissioner Robeson Benn told reporters.

According to the Statutory Declaration Act, Chapter 5:09: “Everyone who makes a declaration according to this Act containing any statement false in fact, which he knows or believes to be false or does not believe to be true, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and shall be liable to imprisonment for one year.”

Earlier, Bhandu provided a copy of his certificate of relinquishment of United States (US) citizenship, but it was dated January 16, 2020, meaning that that at the time of his declaration as a candidate he was still a citizen of the US.

Shuman has admitted in recent press interviews that he is still to be granted approval for his relinquishment of Canadian citizenship, but acknowledged that he has started the process and it had not yet been completed on nomination day.

It was not known whether Leung ever applied to relinquish her American citizenship.

GECOM on Tuesday published the lists of all candidates contesting the elections in local newspapers.

The March 2 election is seen as a straight fight between the ruling coalition, A Partnership for National Unity, headed by President David Granger, and the main opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic, for control of the 65-seat Parliament.