Madam Olubanke King Akerele, Liberia’s former Foreign Minister and Commerce Minister, and Mr. Sheikh Quietteh, an opinion leader of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) are opposed to granting dual citizenship rights to non – negroes, and they want the proposed referendum due this December to be pushed to 2023.
Appearing as a guest on a talk show at Prime FM Thursday morning, 30 July in Monrovia, Mr. Quietteh’s arguments were supported by Madam Akerele who had phoned in to the program saying Liberians are not ready to remove a clause in their Constitution that prevents non-negroes from acquiring citizenship.
The Liberian former Foreign Minister Madam Olubanke King Akerele says she agrees that this referendum can be postponed to 2023 because the people need to better understand what this referendum is all about, saying this is a very serious issue.
“What is the rush? Secondly, the issue of dual citizenship on the item needs clarification, we need to hear from the Liberian National Bar Association,” she says. Madam Akerele notes that it is her understanding that the dual citizenship is for Liberian citizens, insisting that this must be very clear.
“We are not ready as a people to remove the clause that is in our Constitution about non-African born or black citizenship. The reason is very clear, we are nobody in our own country. We are at a disadvantage. To be able to remove that clause there needs to be some conditions, some clarifications …,” she says.
Recounting her experience while serving as Commerce Minister, Madam Akerele states that she worked very hard but it was not appreciated, lamenting that many of the Lebanese and Indians in Liberia were against her.
“Our own people do not sufficiently understand this, this issue. It may come eventually, open the citizenship over, but we cannot afford it,” she says.“We are nobody in our own country and therefore it is not timely for us to … open this thing generally. But dual citizenship, I am supportive of it for Liberians and with certain conditions,” she argues.
During the discussion, Mr. Quietteh suggests that when the referendum is pushed to 2023, Liberians will have ample time to discuss it and they will be aware of what they are voting for.
“So I am making appeal to this government as a member of the ruling party – CDC, I am saying to President Weah we know that he wants to reduce the presidential tenure. We agree with you, we know that you are not so ambitious to stay in power and this is true … and I know that it is true. Please push that, that referendum to 2023,” Mr. Quietta says.
According to Mr. Quietteh, he is not focused on nine years of this country, but its future, urging Liberians not to be in haste at this time to go for referendum and dual citizenship without being given clarity on the referendum.
“Liberia belongs to the African people. And I am making a request to every Liberian to stand with me and say no to the referendum that calls for dual citizenship if clarification is not made by the government that non – Africans will not become [dual citizens],” he pleads with citizens.
Additionally Mr. Quietta has fears that even the Chinese will own land here if Liberians vote in the referendum allowing dual citizenship. Sheikh Quietteh argues that the land in Africa belongs to Africans, and Africans must be the ones to develop their own land. He believes that Africans can make use of their land to stop importing, instead of giving out vast land for concessions.
“Every Liberian supports dual citizenship. Every Liberian supports that their fellow Africans should become citizens of this country and come back and have ownership of their land. But there is something that … our leader just spoke on, but it needs some clarity,” he adds.
According to Mr. Quietta, Liberia is the only country country on the planet that was created for the return of free men and women to Africa, adding that Liberia was chosen as the entry point while Senegal and others were chosen as exit point when people were taken for slavery to America, Europe and other places.By Winston W. Parley