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Senate debates Dual Citizenship

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The Chambers of the Liberian Senate turned a battle ground Tuesday, 5 March when senators got into heated argument over the granting of dual citizenship here. The composition of the current Liberian constitution prohibits dual citizenship and deny citizenship to people of non-negro descend.

During the debate, Sen. H. Dan Morais of Maryland County claims that denying people of having dual citizenship in Liberia is a level of immorality.

He says in order for dual citizenship to be accepted, lawmakers need to amend Article 28 of the Liberian Constitution.

The provision says “Any person, at least one of whose parents was a citizen of Liberia at the time of the Person’s birth, shall be a citizen of Liberia, provided that any such person shall upon reaching maturity renounce any other citizenship acquired by virtue of one parent being a citizen of another country.”

It adds that no citizen of the Republic shall be deprived of citizenship or nationality except as provided by law; and no person shall be denied the right to change citizenship or nationality.

Sen. Morais argues that the world is small and Liberians will go out and have children by other nationals, warning that those children need to be given the right to their mother’s or father’s land.

Sen. Morais’ kisman, Sen. Gbleh-bo Brown of Maryland County however differs with his colleagues who are seeking dual citizenship here.

Sen. Brown says Liberia shouldn’t encourage dual citizenship because it will cause divided loyalty.

He argues that being a citizen of two countries undermines the loyalty of the individual, saying everyone should hold loyal only to a particular country.

According to him, accepting dual citizenship here will undermine Liberia’s sovereignty, warning further that it has a lot of disadvantages because more money will be leaving the country than coming in.
But Gbarpolu County Sen. Armah Jallah believes accepting dual citizenship will be more beneficial to Liberia as a whole.

Sen. Jallah argues if a foreign national is granted a Liberian citizenship, he or she will feel free to invest in Liberia, knowing that he is a citizen.

For his part, Bong County Sen. Henry Yallah believes that dual citizenship will bring development to the country, noting that Liberians will benefit a lot from it.

President George Manneh Weah re-awakened the dual citizenship debate here a year ago while delivering his first annual message before the joint chambers of the Legislature in January 2018, when he described the Constitution racist.

Like his predecessor, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President Weah is supportive dual citizenship, including people of non-negro descent, arguing that it could lead to rapid development.

–Edited by Winston W. Parley

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