… Calling on Liberians to vote ‘yes’ to Proposition One
By Titus Barbu
While the Legislature is yet to come up with a clear cut decision on when a referendum would be held to vote on propositions that will be carved, a delegation from the All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship in the Diaspora (ALCDCD) is calling on Liberians to vote ‘yes’ to the Dual Citizenship Proposition.
In 2014 the Constitution Review Committee (CRC) set up by former President Sirleaf went to work and collected views from a cross section of Liberians on a number of issues to revise or maintain in the Liberian Constitution, and one of those issues was Dual Citizenship. Citizenship in Liberia is granted to persons who are natural born and are of negro descent, and only people of negro descent can be allowed to naturalize.
In the conflict choice between Liberia and another country, Article 28 of the Liberian Constitution on Citizenshiip states: “Any person, at least one of whose parents was citizen of Liberia at the time of the person’s birth, shall be a citizen of Liberia; provided that any such person shall upon reaching maturity renounce any other citizenship acquired by virtue of one parent being a citizen of another country. No citizen of the Republic shall be deprived of citizenship or nationality except as provided by law; and no person shall be denied the right to change citizenship or nationality.” The Liberian Constitution, therefore, does not allow Dual Citizenship.
Since the issue of dual citizenship was raised, Liberians in the Diaspora have been calling for reform of the Constitution to allow them hold two citizenships and the campaign has been ongoing despite hitches that still impede progress in deciding this issue through referendum.
Addressing a team of reporters at the Press Union of Liberia office in Monrovia, the Chairman of the ALCDCD, Emmanuel S. Wette, said they have begun engaging several Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s) in Liberia as well as other interested organizations to put a team together to start a massive civic campaign on Proposition One.
“We are here as a guest of the Liberian Senate to witness the 3rd Annual Message of President George M. Weah, as you know the Senate and the House of Representative voted on passing Proposition One, which is important for all of us to help develop Liberia,” Mr. Wette said.
He added that President Weah, a strong campaigner for dual citizenship, extended the delegation an invitation to attend. As such, they responded to the invitation to appreciate what the President and the Legislature have done and also to talk to the Liberian people about Proposition One.
President Weah, Presenting his 3rd State of the Nation Address in the joint chamber of the National Legislature on January 27, 2020, said Proposition One on Dual Citizenship underscores the message that a Liberian man or woman’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will always be Liberians and that his government will welcome it.
Wette said if a Liberian wins the [American] Diversity Visa (DV) and travels, he or she automatically becomes a citizen of another country with the Liberian Constitution declaring that person non-Liberian, noting that the land you owned before is not yours or your children, something which he frowned on and wants Liberians to join the campaign to support Proposition One.
“Many of our people will say the Supreme Court has made the decision and it means dual citizenship is not available. Our constitution is very silent on the issue of dual citizenship,” he stated.
Speaking also, Lorena Diggs Travell and Rev. Marcus Y. Sherman of the delegation emphasized that their coming to the country to advocate for dual citizenship is not to hurt or take jobs from Liberians but to give back to their motherland, adding that the proposition will really help to develop the country.
Besides the concern for job predicted by the advocates, Liberians living here are also concerned about ripple effects on the local economy causing some to perceive dual citizenship as a conduit for capital flight in an already struggling Liberian economy. This concern was raised during the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration when reports of capital flight was on the rise. Furthermore, Liberians are concerned that granting dual citizenship would allow other foreign nationals of non-negro descent to obtain citizenship and, when this happens, they believe that some of these, who have dominated and controlled the Liberian economy, would end up taking over Liberia altogether, leading many impoverished Liberians not to even own land.
Meanwhile, Members of the delegation, who traveled from abroad to attend the President’s 3rd Annual Message included Emmanuel S. Wette Chairman; Mayango Arku, President the European Federation of Liberian Association (EFLA); and Roland King, Secretary-General, Board of Directors EFLA.
Others were Mis. Lorena Diggs Travell, Treasurer/Financial Secretary of the Conference of Liberian Organization in the South-West United States (COLOSUS); Cecelia Brown Officer, United Liberia Association of Ghana (ULGA); and Rev. Marcus Y. Sherman, Liberian Association in Ghana (LAG) respectively.