ULAA Calls for ‘Restricted’ Dual Citizenship

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ULAA Board Chairman George Toto addressing the media in Monrovia

One of the strongest proponents and probably the largest group that could benefit from dual citizenship, Union of the Liberian Association in the Americans (ULAA) has weighed in on the ongoing debate, noting that dual citizenship for natural born Liberians and does not include “opening up citizenship to non-Negroes as proposed by President George Manneh Weah.

According to the Board Chairman of ULAA, George Toto, the organization’s long struggle for dual citizenship is in no way meant to invalidate or violate the constitution, but to work in the confines of the Alien and Nationality law.
“Our calls are not to grant this right to non-negroes because that is a constitutional issue but we are advocating for natural born Liberians who lost their right after taking up citizenships in other countries,” Mr. Toto said in a press conference at the Capitol Building on Tuesday.

He noted that the bill emanating from the office of Grand Cape Mount County Senator, Varney Sherman is in line with the ULAA’s quest.

However, this clarity from the ULAA chairman is necessary because of an apparent attempt by some members of the Liberian legislature to combine dual citizenship and citizenship to people of non-negro descents.

It may be recalled that President Weah termed the Liberian constitution as “racist” while calling for the removal of that “racist” clause which restricts citizenship to black people only at his first State of the Nation address in January.
Many Liberians have called on the president not to support “what appears to be a new proposal coming out of a House of Representatives committee to combine Dual Citizenship for natural born Liberians with citizenship for all races.”

Mr. Toto has commended the enactment of the Dual Citizenship Bill that is currently before members of the Liberian Senate and hoped the senators will see the need to pass the bill.

“We aren’t talking about non-negroes. We are talking about natural born Liberians. We are advocating for this Bill to pass and we will go into villages and towns to inform our people about the importance of this Bill and why it should be passed,” Toto said.

Recently, a group known as the All-Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship, which represents over 500,000 Liberians in the Diaspora, wrote President Weah indicating that dual citizenship for natural born Liberians, does not involve “opening up citizenship to non-Negroes.”

The group comprises ULAA, The European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA), The Federation of Liberian Communities in Australia (FOLICA), Conference of Liberian Organizations in the South Western United States (COLOSUS), and United Liberian Association Ghana (ULAG).

In a letter to President Weah, the group said the two issues should not be combined because combining these parallel and entirely different propositions as one item in a referendum will pose a significant challenge if not destroy its efforts for dual citizenship for natural born Liberians.

“We need to immediately bring to your attention that these issues should be addressed separately in any future legislative action or referendum,” the group said in its letter to the president.

It may also be recalled that a report on Dual Citizenship from the Senate’s Committee on Judiciary was introduced by Senator Varney Sherman.

The Senators will be providing different opinions on calls by President George Weah to revisit laws on citizenship, property ownership, and the one that forbids people of non-Negro descent citizens of Liberia.

In a nine-page document read in the plenary of the Liberian Senate, Senator Sherman argued that there is a need for change in the 1986 Constitution, especially the portion that prohibits dual citizenship.

He believes the state’s economy will expand if dual citizenship is accepted. “Liberians who left the country during the bitter civil wars and have taken citizenships in other countries for social and economic protection should be allowed to regain their Liberian citizenship under this new law,” he said.

But this was immediately rebuffed by Senator Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba County who said that Liberia does not need dual citizenship to improve its health and education sectors.

Senator Johnson called on President Weah to focus on immediate things that will move the country forward.
Last month, members of the House of Representatives agreed to add one week to their traditional two-week Easter Break to have a face-to-face with their respective constituents about the ‘controversial’ Dual Citizenship and Landownership Bills.
The constituents’ meeting was intended to enable lawmakers to make an informed decision on the issue since it has become a subject of intense public interest in which some of the people have already raised concerns about granting citizenship to non-Negroes. But whatever the case on the dual citizenship issue may be, in the final analysis, it will be decided by the people expressed in a constitutional referendum.

17 COMMENTS

  1. We can always agree to disagree on Dual Citizenship. If granting Dual Nationality grants more economic investments and a larger Gross Domestic Product GDP which will lead to higher tax pool and a larger budget for development as the case is in Ghana and Cote D’IVOIRE why not?

    Limiting citizenship and investors options with inability to inherit and pass assets on to their offspring has led to a Liberian budget of $500 million whereas Ghana $13.9 Billion and Cote D’IVOIRE $12 Billion .

    When will Liberia provide adequately for its 4 million population with such racist laws?

      • Another stupid comment. You don’t think he’s a Liberia for what reason? Because he doesn’t have closed-minded belief like you do?

        • Mr. Jackson,
          I will not exchange insults with you or anyone. If you knew where I am coming from, you would know what I meant Siezie was not an Liberian. Anyway, my fellow Liberians know what I mean.

    • You make a brilliant point. Liberia’s backwardness is really rooted in its inability to abandon archaic policies. There is a paralyzing fear by some in Liberia to move away from ideas that most of are neighbors have long abandoned. Although it is a fact that most ULAA members today enjoy US citizenship, which was once denied to the founders of Liberia, they hold intellectually untenable logic that white people must not be allowed citizenship in Liberia. This typifies the kind of thought process that has all but guaranteed Liberia’s inferior position among its regional peers. Our backwardness in almost everything that makes a nation great is largely due to our woefully lousy inability to adapt to changing global developments.

  2. ULAA does nothing for Liberia. Every time you hear about them it is dual citizenship this and dual citizenship that. What is stopping them for helping to develop Liberia?

    • @ Sarpo Man, that is exactly the point…. but I guess you are not looking at the bigger picture. Where is the motivation coming from to help develop a nation that deprived you of your birth rigt… because you (in a simple English) ran away to seek refuse in other countries… due to a deadly civil war??? It is always a good idea to think through before posting or taking a position on issues…. Just my opinion though.

  3. So, if a non-negro person is born in Liberia, as has happened, what citizenship does that person hold? Are they US citizens, Lebanese citizens, French citizens? And are those persons who are non-negro, born in Liberia, no less entitled to live in and be legal in their home country? I would like to know what the ULAA is afraid of? This is free world 2018, not Mississippi 1862. Move on.

    • Camai B,
      The answer to your question depends on what the constitution says about non-negros being born in Liberia. Are they automatically citizens due to birth? Maybe!

  4. Mr sarpo man what do you want ULAA do for Liberia?
    Built the road to the sarpo national park?
    That is not going to happened,
    It’s the government responsibility,
    (ULAA is seeking their own interests)
    You have to try and seek you own interests from the government, that how government work.

  5. Oh fellow Liberians, dual citizenship hold no ill to the betterment of Liberia. It’s not counterproductive or counter progressive; it simply gives Liberians in the diaspora to have more faith in the system so that they can bring the wealth that they have gathered from other countries to home. There’s nothing to be afraid of if you were not opportuned to flee the violence, and the abject poverty and suffering the war brought on us all. Embrace your brothers and sisters abroad so that we all can build LIberia 🇱🇷 together.

  6. ULAA only want dual citizenship . will they pay income tax to Liberia? Hell no they want to vote but not pay any taxes to Liberia. also they dont want to pay the $130 visa fee when they visit.

  7. The more ignorant comments here against dual citizenship and non-black citizenship there more I understand why the country is so backward. These are the people who either run it or voted for the people who run it. What else can you expect from people with closed-minds?

  8. How about allow citizenship for all natural born Liberians and put a residency requirement on running and holding public offices. This will be a win for the locals who fear for their jobs and a win for dual citizens who have to “continually reside’ in the country for say 5 years before running for office.

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