No Symbol For Dual Citizens

In the last national parliament which lived from 2012 to its closure last November, many people with dual citizenship were given symbols in both the All People’s Congress (APC) and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) to contest for parliamentary seats. In that election, nobody raised the issue of the qualification of citizens with dual citizenship.

However, in the coming 7th March, 2018 elections, the issue has come on the front burner and a lot of debates and discussions have been going on over it. In October last year, former Ombudsman, Francis Gabbidon Esq., a renowned and highly respected constitutional jurist, opined that according to the 1991 Constitution, dual citizens are not qualify to enter into Parliament.

On the side of the Government, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice has sanctioned the law. Along that line, the Government Spokesman, Agibu Tejan-Jalloh, has stated the official position: He maintains that according to Section 76(1), Act No. 6 of the 1991 Constitution, no person shall be qualified for election as Member of Parliament if s/he is a naturalized citizen of Sierra Leone or citizen of another country voluntarily or by declaration of allegiance.

In cognizance of this constitutional prohibition, the Government spokesman noted that his party, All Peoples Congress, as a responsible organization which should set the pace in observing the laws of the land is mindful of not taking the risk of awarding symbol to any aspirant who falls under the above category.

Agibu Tejan-Jalloh said their political rival, Sierra Leone People’s Party in the award of symbols to stand as Member of Parliament for the party made sure that they did not issued symbols to aspirants with dual citizenship.

However, he noted that the prohibition does not affect a Sierra Leone who was born in another country because they did not take voluntary steps to procure another citizenship. He reiterated that anybody who holds another citizenship by any other means is not qualified to be an MP, minister or president of this republic; adding that the only way somebody with another citizenship can qualify to become an MP, minister or president is to relinquish his alien citizenship before the election he wants to contest.

The APC position on the matter was cemented in a meeting with MP aspirants at the Presidential Lodge chaired by the APC Chairman and Leader, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, wherein it was endorsed that:

  1. Dual citizens and Green Card holders are not qualified to be awarded the party symbol
  2. Anybody receiving monies from the Consolidated Revenue Funds and did not resign one year to the March elections does not qualify for the party symbol.
  3. Anybody found guilty of a criminal offense in a competent court of law is not qualified for award of APC symbol.

Meanwhile, many citizens, including the APC Presidential Candidate have said they are taken aback by this latest development. The APC Presidential candidate noted that people with dual citizenship have made invaluable contributions to the country, with the implication that they should not be excluded from its political processes.

On the other hand, there are other citizens who are of the view that the application of the 1991 constitutional restriction is welcome, arguing that it gives opportunity to those who have over the years sacrificed and served their people at the grassroots to be rewarded whilst those with dual citizenship abandoned the country to seek greener pastures abroad.