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Latest Dual Citizenship drive proves there is hope for Diaspora Liberians

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh        All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship Final Resolution

 

The All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship and its many members in the United States, Europe, Africa, Canada and other regions of the world should be applauded for their passionate advocacy of dual citizenship for Liberians abroad.

As a frequent critique of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), under whose umbrella the All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship operates, I am impressed by the group’s dedication and consistency to this issue even as opponents continue to mischaracterize its importance.

As the oldest and largest organization representing the interests of Liberians in the United States and Canada, ULAA is within its purview to push the issue the way it has done, by firing up the Liberian government and ordinary Liberians to get onboard to support this worthy cause.

ULAA, however, has not done a good job in its advocacy of other equally important issues such as decentralization of the Liberian government, accountability and transparency in the Liberian government, corruption and nepotism in the current Liberian government of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the reduction of term limits of Senators from 9 years, and Representatives from 7 years to lesser years; and has not pushed electoral reform and presidential appointments and manipulation of the National Elections Commission (NEC), and other issues the way it has aggressively pushed the dual citizenship issue.

Another transgression that has not gone well with most Liberians is the way some of its leaders have quietly deserted ULAA to quietly and shamelessly lobby former Liberian governments and the current one for jobs, in the face of oppression and corruption.

ULAA has not done a good job in upholding public trust, which has damaged the organization’s credibility.

However, ULAA, through the All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship, it seems hit the jackpot on this very personal and emotional issue, which continues to resonate with Liberians across the globe.

“It is about patriotism, fairness, family reunion and economic development,” quipped Emmanuel Wettee, who as chairman of the All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship, together with his colleagues are leading this tireless lobbying campaign to get the Liberian Legislature “to immediately repeal the Nationality Law.”

According to the Nationality Act, “Liberians with dual citizenship cannot own property, and cannot even inherit a land from a parent or grandparent, because the individual is not a Liberian citizen,” Wettee added.

Article 22 (a) of the 1986 Constitution, however, reads: “Every person shall have the right to own property alone as well as in association with others; provided that only Liberian citizens shall have the right to own real property within the Republic.”

The strategy of the All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship has always been the development of a comprehensive 4-point plan, which was supposed to be presented to lawmakers in Monrovia after the December 2012 conference, with the hopes that the lawmakers will support the political and development aspirations of hundreds and thousands of Liberians living outside of their country.

With pressure mounted on the Liberian Legislature, the All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship believed they now have the ears of 12 sympathetic members of the Liberian senate, who wants to hold a town hall meeting with their constituents before bringing the bill to the floor for a debate, which is a sign of progress.

This is not the first time this issue has gotten this kind of mileage in the public sphere. In fact, the national and presidential elections of 2005 and 2011, and also the 2012 conference in Washington D.C., forcefully elevated the dialogue that galvanized Diaspora Liberians, who always felt disenfranchised and decided to play an active role in the affairs of their country.

However, as is the case with any issue, there are people on the opposite end of the debate who would like to be heard in the most colorful and dramatic way. On the other end, there are those whose thoughtfulness and compassion gives enormous reasons to seriously listen and lend a hand to the issue at stake.

What is often overlooked in this debate is the fact that Liberians who painfully left their birth country for opportunities abroad have not forgotten their native country; and the countless relatives, friends, former schools and playgrounds, place of worships, and the cherished and loving neighborhoods that influenced their upbringing.

Those Liberians continue to visit Liberia, and continue to transmit remittances to their relatives and the various institutions that helped them to be what they are today.

So if Liberians are unable to prosper in their birth country because of their government’s inability to provide them opportunities for personal growth, would it not be in the interest of the Liberian government to warmly embrace those that wants to give back through dual citizenship and the benefits that comes with it?

Support the cause, Liberians. This is the time, and there is hope!

The December 2012 All Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship clearly spelled out the many benefits of dual citizenship for Liberians in the Diaspora. They are:

“Connection to family and land of birth, property ownership in birth country; acceptance of children born to Liberians in foreign countries; economic development, and the reversal of brain drain.”

Give your support to the All Liberian Dual Citizen Funds.

     Bank of America Account # 383007802533

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Category: Editorial

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