ALCOD’s Eminent Chairman Wettee Praises Pres. Weah, Senate-HOR Leadership & Cllr. Bernard
Monrovia – Lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, July 19, finally passed the dual citizenship bill ending more than four decades of debates.
The Dual Citizenship Bill had been pushed by All-Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship (ALCOD) through tireless advocacies, negotiations and maneuverings by Liberians living in the diaspora lobbying for their legislators to enact a bill recognizing dual citizenship.
“It has not been an easy and smooth journey over the years; but finally Dual Citizenship is law of the land,” All-Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship (ALCOD) Eminent Chairman Emmanuel S. Wettee told this newspaper from his base in the USA State of Ohio.
Eminent Wettee, who has been one of the main faces of advocates over the years, reiterated the famous saying: “Once a Liberian, always a Liberian.”
He expressed thanks and appreciation to President George Weah, the leaderships of the House and Senate for working together to repeal the 1973 Aliens and Nationality Law. Now Liberia supports dual citizenship and “‘Once a Liberian, always a Liberian’ is the law of the land.”
During the voting process in the Senate Tuesday, 23 senators voted to pass the bill; two abstained, while five senators were absent. The House of Representatives also voted too, on Tuesday, to pass the bill.
The journey to get to the voting process on Tuesday began many years ago in mid 1950s.
Title 3 of the Liberian Code of Laws of 1956, known as the Aliens and Nationality Law, was amended/repealed through the Fourth Regular Session of the Forty-Fifth Legislature, enacted in lieu thereof as the new Aliens and Nationality Law, to be Title 4 of the Liberian Code of Laws Revised. This was approved on May 15, 1973, and amendments were approved on May 9, 1974. It was this amendment that sessions 22.1 and 22.2 prohibit dual citizenship in Liberia.
According to Eminent Wettee, the advocacy to repeal the 1973 Aliens and Nationality Law started in 2007 by Liberian Citizens Committee for National Consciousness and Progress under the leadership of the late Senator J. Hodo Manston. Senator Manston and his team passed the baton on to Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA). The leadership of ULAA was focused on immigration advocacy (TPS and DED) for Liberians in the US.
In December 2012, the Embassy of Liberia in Washington D.C. and The ULAA sponsored a diaspora conference to discuss the issue of dual citizenship. The diaspora conference birthed ALCOD and Eminent Wettee was elected Chairman.
And after over 40 years, the House voted to amend the Alien and Nationality Law on Thursday, November 11, 2021. While the Senate voted on Thursday, May 20, 2022, to concur with the House of Representatives. However, the Senate’s version of the bill differs significantly from that of what the House had passed and sent to it for concurrence.
The Act that the House had voted for, was co-sponsored by 30 lawmakers from the House of Representatives. It had been submitted and chiefly sponsored by Rep. Acarous Gray. It was read in the Plenary of the House on November 2, 2021. It sought to amend Part III, Chapter 20, Section 20.1; Chapter 21, Sections 21.30, 21.31, 21.51 & 21.52 and Chapter 22, Sections 22.1, 22.1 & 22.4 of the Aliens and Nationality Law of the Liberian Code of Law Revised, Vol. II.
The House passed its version of the bill without any “limitations” for Liberians of natural birth, but with citizenship of another country.
However, the Senate’s version didn’t follow suit with the House as it passed its version with several “limitations” for Liberians in that category.
It was for this reason that the leadership of the Senate and the House had to set up a Joint Conference Committee to work to fine-tune the bill so that it can be harmonized, and their differences reconciled.
Eminent Wettee thanked President George Weah, who through the Office of his Legal Advisor, Cllr. Archibald F. Bernard, for working along with legislators to pass the Dual Citizenship Bill into law.
Eminent Wettee praised Cllr. Bernard for his tireless efforts in working with members of the Senate-House of Representatives Joint Committee on Dual Citizenship until the bill was passed into law.
It can be recalled that during President Weah’s first State of Nation’s Address, he promised to make dual citizenship is priority.