For Dual Citizenship… 120 To Denounce

 

With many well-meaning citizens at home and abroad now willing to contribute to nation building and development through participation in the country’s politics, reports reaching The Exclusive state that over 120 politically minded Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad who are dual citizens have expressed their desire to drop their foreign citizenships in order to qualify not only for other coming national elections but to be also eligible for political appointments in a new government after the 7th March, 2018 national elections.

It could be recalled in October last year, eminent Freetown Lawyer, Francis Gabbidon Esq. wrote an article on citizenship as enshrined in the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone and circulated it widely in the traditional and social media arguing that nobody who is a Sierra Leonean by naturalization or has voluntarily acquired citizenship of another country qualifies to become a Member of Parliament, Minister or President of the Republic. The significance of the constitutional provision as quoted in Gabbidon’s article did not gel well with politicians with dual citizenship until the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) included it in its criteria for the award of party symbol to parliamentary candidates. The party declared that anybody with dual citizenship would not be qualified to contest the parliamentary election in order to avoid other political parties raising any objections on dual citizenship during nomination.

In the previous Parliament, there were reportedly a significant number of parliamentarians with dual citizenship who the law did not touch. It is also rumoured that some current cabinet members have dual citizenship and that President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has asked that any Ministers or Deputy Ministers with dual citizenship should resign now before the APC discovers it.

Reports are that many politicians in the APC and the opposition who are dual citizens have been badly hit by the dual citizenship law in the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone and are reported to be considering what to do next.

The shrewd interpretation of the citizenship law of the country by Lawyer Francis Gabbidon has brought the issue to national prominence as political parties know that giving symbols to dual citizens open the candidates to litigation and will eventually lose their seats in Parliament should they win the next parliamentary election in March.

One aspiring politician who has been quick to react to the issue is the presidential candidate of the National Grand Coalition (NGC), Alhaji Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, who fell into the category of citizens with dual citizenship. With the public speculating that he does not qualify to vie to become a Member of Parliament or presidency, the former UNIDO Director General has clarified that he renounced his American citizenship in November last year.

Until the law is amended accordingly to incorporate dual citizens into the country’s political process, it is impossible for dual citizens to enter the political race without denouncing their citizenship of other countries.

According to the APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary II, Sidi Tunis, who is also the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, many aspirants for the party symbol with British passports were willing, had they known that this law existed, to relinquish their American and British citizenships in order to qualify for the award of party symbol.