Astaphan Says Amendment Brings Stability

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Government Formation To Be More Stable

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
August 05, 2009 (CUOPM)

Prominent Caribbean attorney, Anthony Astaphan is in agreement with recent legislation passed by the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly which calls for proof of renunciation of the other citizenship on Nomination Day.

He scoffed at threats three weeks ago by the unelected Political Leader of the People’s Action Movement (PAM), Mr. Lindsay Grant and Hon. Shawn K. Richards, his party’s lone parliamentarian, in the 15-member lawmaking body, to go to court to challenge the amendment to the National Elections Act. The amendment calls for the presentation of proof or evidence of renunciation by candidates seeking to be elected to the National Assembly and who held dual citizenship.

Both Richards and Grant claim they have renounced their American citizenship at the U.S. Embassy in Barbados and scheduled a press conference last week to show the local media their renunciation certificates. The press conference was never held.

Senior Counsel Astaphan said it was imperative that candidates seeking membership to the parliament disclose dual citizenship or provide evidence of renunciation to avoid unnecessary court battles after an election.

The Dominica-born attorney said providing the evidence would bring stability to the formation of a government following a general election.

“A challenge to the law should not have a snowball chance in hell. The Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis places the power in the Parliament to make laws to regulate elections. Every single law passed in the country from the days of the People’s Action Movement and the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party has been laws passed by the government. The Nomination Forms are passed by Parliament. The qualifications for Parliament are passed by Parliament. The Parliament has the authority to pass laws disqualifying people and Parliament has the authority to make nominations forms that require people to disclose whether they have dual citizenship or not and if they have renounced what that renunciation is and when it was delivered. Otherwise it makes a mockery of the whole thing,” said senior counsel Astaphan.

“Any law that requires people to disclose their hand in terms of dual citizenship and whether they have revoked it and if yes, what of the document is an entirely proper and constitutional law,” said Astaphan.

“Do they want us to wait until after a general election to go and find out? Tell us now. Tell us absolutely now what you’re true position is in relation to your oath of allegiance to a foreign state. We need to know when you renounced, how you renounced and what was the authority that accepted your renunciation, otherwise it becomes a serious political issue in that constituency. The people have the right to know whether I am voting for somebody who can stay in the House and represent me or whether I am throwing away my vote by voting for a man who is an American, British or Canadian citizenship,” said Astaphan.

“We must not allow the political process, the Parliamentary process or the electability of our people to be polluted by dual citizenship. We must have one oath of allegiance only and that is to the Parliament, the Governor General and the People of this country,” said Astaphan, who reiterated that his position is universal which he shares in every single island that he goes to.

“It is not tailored by politics. It is the constitutional reality of the government that we want,” he said.

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