Trotman says AFC always advocated for Diaspora representation
–that dual citizenship can address Guyana’s brain-drain problem
ALLIANCE For Change (AFC) Leader Raphael Trotman has said that the party’s position on the need for Diaspora representation in the National Assembly is not based on “self-interest” but has been advocated for by the party for years.
In a media release on Sunday, Trotman cleared up misrepresentations in some sections of the public domain, noting that he is thankful that there is an ongoing discussion on the matter which will shape future decisions.
The topical matter arose following the March 22, 2019 ruling of the Court of Appeal regarding the validity of the no-confidence motion passed on December 21, 2018.
The ruling highlighted that, according to the Constitution, Members of Parliament (MPs) with dual citizenship are not allowed to serve in the House.
Since then, the AFC has indicated that it intends to make representation, in the near future, in the National Assembly for the constitutional provision which bars the participation of dual citizens in the House to be amended.
Speaking on the matter in the release, Trotman contended that the AFC’s views on Diaspora representation did not arise following the no-confidence motion, but came about because of challenges witnessed regarding Guyana’s brain-drain.
At a previous press conference, he had pointed out that a report from the World Bank some 15 years ago stated that of all the countries in the world, Guyana was the most affected by brain-drain.
“Approximately 86 per cent of our skilled citizens living and working outside of Guyana cannot achieve sustained growth until, and unless, we meaningfully harness the potential of the Diaspora in every respect,” the release said.
“Guyana’s future development cannot be hinged on the 14 per cent of those of us remaining. Even with our best efforts to train and equip our youth, the numbers will still be insufficient to take hold of the wave of opportunity that is bearing down on us,” Trotman said.
CANNOT BE SELFISH
He said that just as the country reaches out to the Diaspora for financial support in various regards, it should similarly reach out for human resources in the form of a contribution to decision-making.
“It is somewhat disingenuous to recognise and seek out the Diaspora’s skills, receive the bounty of their resources through remittances and barrels, and then slam the door shut on the aspect of decision-making at the level of the National Assembly, because they have taken a second nationality. I posit that most Guyanese who left didn’t do so because they were unpatriotic, but rather felt compelled to, for economic or security reasons mostly, and shouldn’t be victimised for this,” Trotman said.
The Guyana Chronicle previously reported that the AFC’s call for Diaspora involvement in Parliament dates back to as far as its 2006 and 2011 manifestos, whereby they lobbied for it as a necessity for the country’s development.
The release corroborated: “In 2006, we boldly stated that we would ‘implement a Diaspora policy that encourages investment, harness their talents and expertise and makes remigration easy and move towards diaspora representation in the National Assembly.’
Likewise, in 2011, we went further, and included in our ‘Action Plan’ (Manifesto), the following as one of our primary objectives: ‘Pursue Diaspora representation in the National Assembly, and explore the reintroduction of Diasporal voting at General Elections.’”
Trotman said the AFC, since its formation, has deliberately, in the furtherance, of its position, placed members of the Diaspora on its lists of Candidates for General and Regional elections.
In further justifying that the party’s position is not grounded in “self-interest”, Trotman reminded that the lone AFC executive affected by the dual citizen matter, Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, was born out of Guyana.
He stated that Gaskin has not sworn allegiance to any foreign state or power “in the strict sense”.
“Nevertheless, out of a respect for the Constitution, the member has chosen to resign from the National Assembly and the party has accepted his resignation. That notwithstanding, we will continue to push for the full inclusion of members of the Diaspora in all areas of our national development,” Trotman said.
He also pointed out that Guyanese nationals serve in the parliaments of other countries as dual citizens which, he noted, is “recognition, perhaps, of the fact that the world has changed, and that a person’s citizenship or nationality should be no indicator of their competence, patriotism and their possible involvement in politics.”
Always tell someone how you feel because opportunities are lost in the blink of an eye but regret can last a lifetime.