BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Prime Minister David Thompson on Thursday added his voice to the raging debate in the region over the issue of dual citizenship, saying he believes the current situation in which persons can be disqualified for leadership on such grounds is flawed.
“This is a matter that I consider worthy for analysis at this crucial juncture in our history,” said Thompson, in making his position known on the issue.
Addressing a large gathering for Errol Barrow Day celebrations in Barbados that included the Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who is facing such a challenge at home, Thompson said he was very concerned that “on our present trajectory, if something sensible is not done that soon we may not have a competent cadre of individuals from which to choose our leaders in the Caribbean.
“I find it somewhat flawed that we educate our children, send them abroad for education to gain valuable insights and experiences in other lands and then we tell them that the legal status they would have acquired while residing in those countries prevents them from serving in and helping to build their own countries as legislators.
“It gets even worse. Some existing constitutions also stipulate that even holding citizenship or having a passport from a sister Caribbean island disqualifies you from serving in our own country as a legislator,” he said, adding that the time had come for a review of the provisions “as they will hamper and prevent us from attracting vitally needed talent in the management and administration of these islands at this critical period in our development”.
Skerrit, whose Dominica Labour Party (DLP) scored a resounding victory in the December 18 general elections, faces the possibility of being disqualified on the grounds that he is a holder of French citizenship.
The opposition United Workers Party (UWP), which claimed three of the 21 seats in the Dominica parliament, has taken the matter to court.
While not making specific reference to the Dominica situation, Thompson chose to highlight the life work of Barrow who he said could have qualified for citizenship in quite a few Caribbean countries and elsewhere.
“Could you imagine the void that might have existed in Barbados’ history had he been denied the right to serve in the parliament of Barbados in 1958 because he was a citizens of another Caribbean country?” he asked.
In the case of Jamaica, where the matter of dual citizenship has been settled by the court the pre scri ption has been to order a by election in cases where the candidate is disqualified.