President Ellen Johnson SirleafMonday, January 25, 2016 delivered her 11th Annual Message to the 5th Session of the Liberian Legislature sitting in the Richard R. Tolbert Joint Chambers of the Capitol Building with a call for dual citizenship in Liberia, and to repeal “race-based” provisions in the Constitution that bar people of non-negro decent (white or Caucasian people) from becoming citizens and owning properties here.
Article 58 of the Constitution of Liberia mandates the President to address the Legislature on the fourth working Monday in January of each, presenting the Legislative Agenda for the new year and state of the economy, including revenue intake and expenditure.
President Sirleaf said granting Diaspora-based Liberians dual citizenship would yield dividends for the economy and stressed the need to conform to global changes, noting that Liberia is the only country that constitutionally discriminates against or bars non-negroes from becoming Liberian citizens.
But Liberians seem generally opposed to dual citizenship and non-negroes becoming citizens as evidenced by their vehement rejection of proposition on Dual Citizenship during a validation conference held in 2015 in Gbarnga, Bong County under the auspices of the Constitution Review Committee headed by ex-Chief justice Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott.
Dual citizenship was among over a dozen propositions that were debated during the Gbarnga Conference, but rejected on fears that Liberians in the Diaspora could come home, get in government, and siphon public money with no loyalty to the State as they would have option to return abroad to live in comfort with their families.
Madam Sirleaf acknowledged the economy is in serious decline, and is causing increasing hardship for many Liberians, saying “We are in difficult times.” She said the economy experienced “suppressed growth” in 2015 due to global economic crisis, fall in the world market prices of iron ore and rubber, Liberia’s traditional commodities and principally ongoing drawdown by the United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL, which has significantly reduced cash in-flow here.
She said real Gross Domestic Product or GDP which stood at 6.8 percent in 2015 has plummeted to 0.3 percent, but expressed confidence that working together, Liberians will overcome the challenges like they’ve done in past.
Relating to the bad shape of the economy however, the President did not mention the current waves of layoffs of Liberians by concession companies in the country, including steel giant ArcelorMittal and China Union coupled with the shutdown of Russian-owned Putu Mining Company, which was posted in Grand Gedeh County, southeast Liberia.
By Jonathan Browne