Diaspora Liberians commend lawmakers
The Senate has overwhelmingly approved three constitutional propositions, including dual citizenship, reduction of the tenures of the President, Vice President and the date for the holding of elections in the country.
The three constitutional propositions are in accordance with Article 91 of the 1986 Constitution, and have been sent to the House of Representatives for concurrence.
Article 91: “This Constitution may be amended whenever a proposal by either (1), two-thirds of the membership of both Houses of the Legislature or (2), a petition submitted to the Legislature, by not fewer than 10,000 citizens, which receives the concurrence of two thirds of the membership of both Houses of the Legislature, is ratified by two-thirds of the registered voters, voting in a referendum conducted by the Elections Commission not sooner than one year after the action of the Legislature.
The dual citizenship clause (Article 28), is labeled Proposition 1; reduction of the tenure of President, Vice President and members of the Legislature (Articles 46, 47, 48, 49 & 50) is Proposition 2; and the date of elections (Article 83(a), and (c), Proposition 3.
The suggested amendment to Article 28 reads, “A natural born citizen of Liberia may hold the citizenship of another country, but shall not qualify for elected positions, and the following appointed positions: Chief Justice and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia; Cabinet Minister, a head of autonomous agency and non academic/research/scientific institution and ambassador.”
The Senate said Article 28 provides that any person, at least one of whose parents was a citizen of Liberia at the time of his or her birth, shall be a natural born citizen of Liberia; a natural born citizen’s right to citizenship of Liberia is inherent and inalienable; and no law shall be enacted or regulation promulgated which alienates or deprives a natural born citizen of Liberia his or her citizenship right is null and void.
Members of the Senate said voting for the President, Vice President, Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives shall be conducted throughout the country on the Second Tuesday in November of each election year.
The Senate has agreed that the Elections Commission shall, within 15 days, be in receipt of a complaint, conduct an impartial investigation and render a decision, which may involve a dismissal of the complaint or a nullification of the election of a candidate and any political party or independent candidate affected by such decision shall, no later than in seven days appeal against it to the Supreme Court.
Also, the Senators voted for the reduction of tenures of the President, Vice President, and members of the House of Senate and the House of Representatives shall be elected for a term of five years, and shall all Senators be elected for the term of seven years.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Pro Tempore of the of the Senate shall also be elected once every five years.
In a statement, the All-Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship, comprising of The Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), has resolved to endorse the Propositions approved by the Senate and concurred by the House of Representatives on October 1, 2019, to amend Article 28th of the 1986 Constitution.
Eminent Emmanuel S. Wettee, chairman, The All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship, signed the statement.
ULAA operates in collaboration with the European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA); the Federation of Liberian Communities in Australia (FOLICA), Incorporated; Conference of Liberian Organizations in the Southwestern United States (COLOSUS); United Liberian Association in Ghana (ULAG), and Coalition of Concerned Liberians (CCL), all representing over 500,000 Liberians in the Diasporas.
A natural born citizen of Liberia may hold the citizenship of another country, but shall not qualify for elected positions and the following appointed positions: Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia; Cabinet Ministers, Deputy Ministers; all heads of Autonomous Commissions, Agencies and Non-Academic/Research/Scientific Institutions and Ambassadors.”
Accordingly, the Diaspora Liberians said over the weekend that, “We appreciate our lawmakers for protecting the citizenship of all Liberia, and the administration of President George Weah for providing the political environment for such discussions that resulted from the propositions advanced and approved by the lawmakers.”
Currently, the All-Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship said, “our laws provide that only Liberian citizens can own real property in the country, and the current 1973 Alien and Nationality Law as amended in 1974 through the Fourth Regular Session of the 44th Legislature strips natural born Liberians of their citizenship for assuming additional citizenship. This imposes legal restrictions on many Liberians by birth, who fled abroad due to wars and conflicts from investing in the country as they cannot own or inherit real property. It also stifles the participation of Diaspora Liberians in the re-construction and economic recovery of the land of our nativity. In addition, laws in Liberia do not allow a Liberian woman to pass on her citizenship to her child.
“For the past 10 years or more, we have continued to take numerous steps to remove this legal impediment so that Diaspora Liberians can actively invest in the country by participating in the economic recovery. These include several meetings with former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, during which we have continued to crave her indulgence to help repeal the 1974 Alien and Nationality Law. We have sent delegations to Liberia, written letters and held meetings with the leadership and individual members of the Legislature. We have submitted proposals and actively lobbied to repeal the 1974 Alien and Nationality Law. We were deeply involved in the national consultation to amend the National Constitution, and were represented at National Constitution Review Conference in Gbarnga, Bong County. We made the issue of Dual Citizenship as part of The Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) final report,” the group said in a release.
“On March, 2017, we challenged the constitutionality of the 1974 Aliens and Nationality Law at the Supreme Court of Liberia and yet have not received any decision from the Supreme Court.
“Sadly, after all of these efforts mentioned above for over 10 years or more, the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law, as amended in 1974 through the Fourth Regular Session of the 45th Legislature, still remains in place now and Dual Citizenship was never achieved up to the last day of the Presidency of former President Sirleaf on January 22, 2018.
“Therefore, we are grateful to members of the 54th Legislature, and the leadership of President Weah for such an opportunity to amend Article 28th of 1986 Constitution. We are calling upon all Liberians in the Diaspora to work with and support The All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship to campaign and help pass the propositions in 2020 elections. In addition, we are appealing to all heads of diaspora organizations to attend the Washington DC Diaspora Conference from December 6-7, 2019,” the statement concluded.