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Feb 26, 2003

Williams has U.S. passport, denies implications

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While today was supposed to belong to the U.D.P., it was the People’s United Party that may have received the afternoon’s best news. For over a week, P.U.P. operatives had been dropping hints that U.D.P. Albert candidate Marilyn Williams held a U.S. passport… and that under Belize’s constitution that fact disqualifies her from sitting in the House of Representatives. Today, when asked to comment on her situation, Williams appeared to fall somewhat short of Dean Barrow’s carefully set standards for candour.

Marilyn Williams, U.D.P. Candidate, Albert Div.

“The constitution does provide for dual nationality, I have not looked at the law requiring…the requirements for running for House of Representatives, so I can’t really comment on that right now. I mean that is certainly the something that the party will look at, but yes, I do hold a U.S. passport. But I have lived in this country since 1994 and I have worked very hard for this country, so that I don’t see where the problem lies.”

Stewart Krohn

“Could you give us the details of how you acquired your U.S. nationality?”

Marilyn Williams

“I left this country when I was about twelve-years-old. I wasn’t given a choice about it, I went because that is what my parents dictated and that is how it was done.”

Stewart Krohn

“How long did you live in the States and how did you acquired your U.S. passport?”

Marilyn Williams

“I lived there for almost thirty years I believe. I acquired it just like everybody else after five years of living in the U.S.”

Stewart Krohn

“What I’m getting at Miss Williams is, in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen there is an oath that you take and it would have been an oath of allegiance to the United States of America, did you take…

Marilyn Williams

“I think that’s what all citizens of America do, naturalised citizens. I mean I’m no exception to the rule.”

Stewart Krohn

“What I was getting at, is someone can acquire nationality through parentage where you don’t have to go through the process of swearing allegiance, you would just be automatically granted…

Marilyn Williams

“No, I believe I applied.”

Stewart Krohn

“So you did go through the swearing of allegiance?”

Marilyn Williams

“Yes.”

Stewart Krohn

“Now you say that you haven’t looked at the law, you haven’t looked at the constitution…

Marilyn Williams

“I haven’t looked at that aspect of the constitution as to the requirements. You said to me just now that the law says that you can’t hold an office in the House of Representatives if you have pledged allegiance to another country. I personally have not looked at that law. Certainly if our law recognises dual citizenship, then I don’t see how one could not be a member of the House of Representatives.”

Stewart Krohn

“But Mrs. Williams, correct me if I’m wrong, this rumour that has been going around, it’s not terribly new, it’s been around for…

Marilyn Williams

“It’s not a rumour Stewart, it’s a fact, I do hold a U.S. passport.”

Stewart Krohn

“But what I’m saying is you are aware that the P.U.P. was putting this information out…

Marilyn Williams

“No, I wasn’t aware. I pay no attention to the P.U.P. from that aspect.”

Stewart Krohn

“So what you’re telling me Mr. Williams, my approaching you today is the first time that you have ever heard…

Marilyn Williams

“Yes it is.”

Stewart Krohn

…that the P.U.P. is interested in your nationality?”

Marilyn Williams

“The P.U.P. are interested in many aspects of my life, that is only one of them.”

Stewart Krohn

“And just let me confirm again, yourself being a lawyer, you have not bothered whatsoever to look at the part of the constitution that talks about qualifications for House of Representatives?”

Marilyn Williams

“It was not important.”

Stewart Krohn

“If it turns out that the constitution does address itself to that point of law about swearing allegiance to another power, if it is clear to you, would you be willing to step down from your candidacy if it turns out that the constitution speaks clearly on that subject?”

Marilyn Williams

“I will look at my options and I will deal with that at that time.”

Section fifty-eight of Belize’s constitution seems to be very clear on the issue. It states: No person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the House of Representatives who is by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state.

The oath Williams swore on becoming a citizen of the U.S.A. would seem to clearly qualify as an act of obedience to a foreign power. The only question at this point is whether she will voluntarily confront the issue or be forced to by a court of law.

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