President George Manneh Weah’s private prophet, Bishop Emeritus Matthew T. Gueh says he does not agree that citizenship should be granted to foreigners before they could do what they have to do here, slightly differing with Mr. Weah’s argument on granting citizenship to all races for development and progress.
“The word citizenship, you don’t have to become a citizen of Liberia before doing what he has in mind for you to do. Ok, so there could be other policy that could give these people the right to come back, to come back to own land, to own property, this and that. We can craft it in another way, give it another nomenclature than to say citizen,” Bishop Gueh said Thursday evening, 1 February on a local radio talk show.
The Bishop Emeritus of the Evangelical Congregational Church in Liberia contends that “God was not deceived to make Liberians, Liberians,” adding that he just don’t want the name citizenship [for foreigners].
However, the Bishop says he’s in agreement with the way President Weah wants to boost the economy by allowing foreign investors to come here and lease land and get businesses, but not granting them citizenship.
“It is already happening, so we don’t have to call these people citizens before they say well, let them get the right. I believe in the right that he wants to give them. But for them to call them Liberians, you know for that right, that’s the difference I have, but I’m in agreement with that,” the Clergy argues.
He insists that God divided the nations and he decided to make Liberians, Liberians. President Weah’s call to amend provisions in Liberia’s Constitution that limit citizenship and property ownership rights only to blacks in order to make a race – friendly law continues to stir debate here, even among some of his allies.
Mr. Weah believes that the restrictions on citizenship and property ownership are a serious impediment to the development and progress of the country.
The new Liberian president suggests that appropriate amendment be made to address the situation, arguing that the country stands to gain everything when people of other races are allowed to become citizens.
He points to other countries in the West African region like Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana where he says it would soon be observed that permitting people of other races to become citizens has not marginalized their indigenes.
In his first Annual Message on Monday, 29 January, the President argued that in the 21st century, he is of the view that the threats and conditions that led framers of Liberia’s Constitution to put in such restrictions no longer exist.
He argues that these conditions have changed, adding that it is his view that keeping such a clause in the Constitution is unnecessary, racist, and inappropriate for the place that Liberia occupies today in the comity of nations.
He stresses that such restriction contradicts the definition of Liberia and insists that Liberia should have nothing to fear from people of any other race becoming citizen here once they conform to the requirement of the country’s immigration and naturalization laws.
By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne