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PM Holness says dual citizenship as a leader is untenable, incurable

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[Jamaica Observer] –  Prime Minister Andrew Holness says there should be no question about the undivided loyalty of any individual who wants to be or is the ultimate leader of Jamaica, whether that person is prime minister or Opposition leader.

Holness was speaking Monday morning on CVM at Sunrise with Dennis Brooks and Yendi Phillipps.

He said the position of any individual who aspires to lead Jamaica but remains a dual citizen is both untenable and incurable.

“I believe that the Jamaican Diaspora is much bigger than our Commonwealth and that the Jamaican Commonwealth is our Diaspora wherever they are and that we should allow persons with Jamaican citizenship to be able to serve Jamaicans in our Parliament politically. So for me, it doesn’t matter what other citizenship you have once you swear allegiance being a Jamaican citizen to Jamaica. That would be my stated position.

“The other thing I would say is that to be the ultimate leader of a country, to be the ultimate executive leader of the country, you should have no other citizenship. There should be no question by your citizens that you lead that you know that you have somehow split loyalties, that you have a parachute should in case anything go wrong, that you may not be subject to the full force of the laws of the country that you serve because you are a citizen of another country you could always find a way out,” Holness explained.

He continued, “And I think that is important. I think in the minds of every Jamaican, the question would be ‘Is the leader of your country fully, wholly and solely committed to your best interest? And there is no other loyalty or interest drawing on the decisions that they make?”

“It is an untenable situation and if you intend to become leader of the country whether as prime minister or any sovereign leadership, leader of the Opposition, to head the Parliament or whatever it is, you really should divest yourself of any other loyalty that you may have,” Holness shared.

The prime minister’s comments come days after Opposition Leader, Mark Golding expressed his support of dual citizens being allowed to sit in the Houses of Parliament in Jamaica.

In pushing for the Caribbean Court of Justice to be made Jamaica’s final appellate court, Golding also stated that it should not be a case where Jamaica has “one foot in and one foot out of King Charles’ yard”.

Those comments triggered several calls on social media for him to declare whether he’s both a Jamaican and British citizen.

He has since stated that he holds both Jamaican and British citizenship, the latter via descent from his father who had migrated to Jamaica from the UK. He reportedly said he has not renounced his British citizenship because it was not “legally necessary” for him to do so.

The Constitution of Jamaica does not forbid Jamaicans who are citizens of another Commonwealth country from sitting in Parliament.

In a post to social media over the weekend, Golding stated that “I am a born Jamaican and have a Jamaican passport”, adding that “I’ve never hidden the fact that my father, who came to Jamaica from the UK, had got me a British passport when I was a young child”.

He said he has travelled on his Jamaican passport from before he started serving in government.

But, for the prime minister, that is not enough.

Holness clarified that while he is not against individuals with dual citizenship constituting the Parliament, he believes once that individual aspires to lead Parliament, for them to remain a dual citizen is not just untenable but is also incurable.

“For two things, we believe that we must find a way to include our Diaspora, our Jamaicans. So once you are a Jamaican, you have Jamaican citizenship, we believe you should be entitled to enter our Parliament and…serve. However, having entered the Parliament, if it is that you intend to become the ultimate decision maker then you must divest yourself of any other loyalty even if it is not required legally.

“I think anyone in that position would be untenable and not just that, I think it would be incurable. In other words, having gone ahead to say I want to lead the country ultimately and not having taken that step before, you can’t cure it afterwards because already the question is ‘why didn’t you do this before? Why did you carry us along and not declare this to us?’ So it is not just untenable, it is incurable,” Holness explained.


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