… to campaign for ‘Yes’ vote on dual citizenship
A coalition of six diaspora Liberian organizations has appealed to President George Weah to champion their cause for “yes” vote during next year’s referendum on the dual citizenship proposition.
The groups, in a signed statement under the banner, the All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship, believe that in the absence of the President’s support, the vast majority of the population will vote against the proposition for amending the Constitution to allow diaspora Liberians to become citizens.
As it stands, diaspora Liberians, who are naturalized citizens of another country or their children, are not allowed to become citizens, as well as being excluded from owning land or other real estate property, because of the country’s 1974 Alien and Nationality Law.
However, to change such situation, the Legislature this year overwhelmingly included the Dual Citizenship Bill in one of the eight propositions for next year’s referendum. The Dual Citizenship Bill, which is intended to amend Article 28 of the Liberian Constitution, only grants citizenship to a Liberian who is a citizen of another country or an individual of Liberian parentage.
The bill, however, denied dual citizenship holders from contesting for elected positions or being appointed to public position or Non-Academic/Research/Scientific Institutions.
But it contains a clause which allows dual citizenship holders to hold elected or appointed positions of Non-Academic/Research/Scientific Institutions if they relinquish the citizenship of that country.
In the signed statement, the group’s chairman, Emmanuel S. Wettee, said the bill restrictions are too far-reaching, given the fact that the country is still recovering from intractable conflicts and dealing with a massive brain-drain when there is a huge pool of skilled and qualified professional Liberians in the Diaspora, who should be seen as assets to the country rather than threats.
“While we did not anticipate these overreaching restrictions, we nonetheless consider the dual citizenship proposition a significant step forward in realizing our dream. [However] we are cognizant of the fact that there had to be a compromise to secure the two-thirds majority that is required to pass the proposition.
“The next big challenge now is to ensure that the proposition is approved in the upcoming referendum, and we are once again counting on you [President Weah] to help make this a success. Our more than 15 years’ quest for dual citizenship has reached a crucial moment, and we now stand at a crossroad of achieving our dream or dashing our aspirations to remain citizens in our own country of birth.
“Needless to say that the pending referendum is a make or break for us, we do not wish to leave anything to chance. This is why we are turning to you [President Weah], our biggest champion, to personally lead the efforts to ensure a successful outcome,” Mr. Wettee said in the statement.
Undoubtedly, Wettee further said the implications of “no” vote are too far-reaching as it will deny them citizenship and land ownership, because of the 1974 Alien and Nationality Law, which will not be changed if the proposition is disapproved.
Mr. Wettee added that it is against this background that they are appealing to President Weah to step in and champion their cause, like he did in getting the dual citizenship bill during the referendum period.
“The denial of inheritance right [under 1974 Alien and Nationality Law] to land and real estate property is extremely unfair. Many of us wish to return home someday and participate in the development of the country to spur economic activities.
“Again, we are grateful to you for your support to this cause, and we are confident that you will remain personally engaged to ensure that the Dual Citizenship Proposition passes in the ensuing referendum,” Mr. Wettee added.
The six diaspora Liberian organizations, whose leaders signed the document, included
Vamba Fofana, president of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), Mayango Arku, president of the European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA), president Mohamed Salia Dukuly, and the Federation of Liberian Communities in Australia (FOLICA), Incorporated.
The rest are President Willie Kim Kamara of the Conference of Liberian Organizations in the Southwestern United States (COLOSUS), Julia Mardea Richards, president of the United Liberian Association in Ghana (ULAG), and John F. Lloyd, National Chairman, Coalition of Concerned Liberians (CCL).