Opposition challenges new citizenship law

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts & Nevis: The main opposition People’s Action Movement (PAM) intends to challenge recently approved legislation requiring all electoral candidates to take an oath indicating that they do not hold dual citizenship.

PAM leader, attorney Lindsay Grant, described the new legislation as unconstitutional.

“Our Constitution is the highest law of the land,” Grant said, referring to Section 28 (a) of the St. Kitts and Nevis Constitution, which states that a person is not qualified to sit in Parliament if he or she is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.

“It means, therefore, that the challenge comes at the stage when that person has already been elected. You have a 21-day period after that to challenge. That’s the Constitution,” Grant said.

He said the new law “sets up an additional hurdle for an individual” who is being nominated as a candidate for a general election.

“It says now, when you present yourself on Nomination Day to the officer…that officer is given the power to determine if what (the candidate) produces in the form of a certificate, or otherwise, is good and sufficient for that individual.

“It would make a mockery of the Constitution to put yet another hurdle on Nomination Day – to be conducted by an officer, and not the Court. That is what we are challenging. We are saying it (violates) the Constitution and ought to be struck down by the Court. We have already drafted the necessary documentation…to attack that particular piece of legislation,” he said.

Earlier this month, Parliament approved an amendment to the electoral laws, requiring anyone standing as a candidate in an election to take an oath that they do not hold dual citizenship, or if they had previously, swear that they had renounced their ties to the other country, and provide proof of such.

Grant, who held dual citizenship with the United States for many years, announced only days before the passage of the amendment that he had renounced his American citizenship.

His deputy, Shawn Richards, who is the sole PAM legislator, announced that he, too, had renounced his ties to the United States. 

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