18 August 2008

Uganda: Rules Set for Dual Citizens

Kampala — The Government has set stringent conditions for acquiring dual citizenship. The 1995 Constitution was amended in 2005 to enable Ugandans and non-Ugandans have two citizenships simultaneously.

The terms are contained in the Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control Bill 2008 presented to Parliament yesterday by the Government Chief Whip, Matsiko Kabakumba

The Bill, she said, was a response to the public outcry for dual citizenship.

"A citizen of Uganda of eighteen years and above who voluntarily acquires the citizenship of a country other than Uganda may retain citizenship of Uganda subject to the Constitution," the Bill reads.

But to acquire dual citizenship, applicants must not be engaged in espionage against Uganda or served in the armed forces and of countries at war or hostile to Uganda.

Applicants must not have attempted to acquire Ugandan citizenship by fraud, or been convicted of a criminal offence and should not be bankrupt.

The applicant must also be above 18 years of age, be of sound mind, hold only one citizenship provided his or her country's laws permit dual citizenship.

In addition, non-Ugandans must prove that they are not being deported from any country and are not under a death sentence or imprisonment exceeding nine months.

They must also have been resident in Uganda for over 20 years and for 24 months running just before the application.

The applicants must know at least one prescribed Ugandan language, English or Swahili.

Additionally, the applicants should possess "substantial amounts of money lawfully acquired and be willing to take the oath of allegiance". A person holding dual citizenship cannot hold some sensitive government positions or contest for the presidency.

"We don't want to create confusion. How do you become a president of another country at the sometime you are a citizen of another country? It's the same thing with security heads. They are trusted with the countries' security information and we can't risk giving them duo citizenship," Matsiko said.

Anyone who acquires a third citizenship automatically loses the Ugandan citizenship.

"Where a person ceases to be a Ugandan citizen he or she shall cease to enjoy the rights of a Ugandan citizen except rights to property legally acquired while that person was a citizen," says the Bill. A Ugandan citizen, who desires to acquire citizenship of another country while retaining his or her citizenship has to give notice in writing to the Immigration Board.

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