28 February 2018

Liberia: Legislature Petitioned to Stall President Weah's Quest for Dual Citizenship

Monrovia — Some Liberians have started opposing the amendment of Articles 22-a & 27-b of the Liberian Constitution to allow people of non-Negroes descent, to become citizens of Liberia.

Article 22a of the Liberian Constitution states: "Every person shall have the right to own property alone as well as in association with others;" while Article 27b states, "In order to preserve, foster and maintain the positive Liberian culture, values and character, only persons who are Negroes or of Negro descent shall qualify by birth or by naturalization to be citizens of Liberia."

But President George Manneh Weah, addressing the Legislature in his first Annual Message to the nation, described the two articles, as "racist" and called for their amendment.

The clause was "unnecessary, racist and inappropriate", President Weah stated in his address.

Since the pronouncement by the President calling for the amendment, some Liberians have greeted the President's plead differently.

Others have welcomed dual citizens but disagreed with the President for people of non-Negro descent to become citizens and own properties in Liberia.

As the debates deepen, the Capitol Building grounds on Tuesday, February 27, were greeted with a peaceful gathering of Liberians, who had gathered to present a petition to their lawmakers to reject the amendment of the Constitution.

The citizens under the umbrella, Fubbi Foundation for Development and Sustainability (FFDS), said the President's quest to amend the Constitution undermines the creed for which Liberia was founded.

Citizens, who visited the Legislature, were headed by former Montserrado County District #9 Representative candidate.

Presenting the petition to the House Committee on Claims and Petitions, Fubbi Henries said - "We maintain that this will undermine not just the very creed for which our nation was founded, but will also ruin our chances to gain economic freedom

"That is, this will be a lose-lose situation for the already anxious Liberians with high expectations for change".

"Therefore, we are calling on the Honorable Legislature not to support any amendment of such."

Henries narrated how the civil war damaged the country's infrastructures, which made the hope for economic recovery difficult; saying, "Liberians are still hopeful for better days."

He added that Liberia's economy is already being controlled by the foreign businessmen; adding: "Giving them the opportunity to be citizens and own properties will throw Liberia back in their own country."

"Our economy has been largely controlled by Lebanese and Indian businessmen, who have made it difficult for Liberian-owned small and medium enterprises to strive. Thereby being "spectators in our own country. Notwithstanding, Liberians still remain hopeful for better days," he said.

He, however, disagreed with President Weah and others, who said the Liberian constitution is racist.

"Just to clear the disbelief about Liberia having a racist constitutional clause and being the only country in the world with such bad law, let us firstly make the following known, the framers of our Constitution knew that this day would have come and didn't want misinterpretations of their intent."

"They also experienced firsthand what it meant to be slaves (an experience many, if not all of us, living today have no clue whatsoever what it means to be a slave,".

Fubbi further said those two clauses were added not to express a racist mood of Liberia's founding fathers but to protect future generation from the experiences they had, living as slaves.

"Thus; they are Protective clauses and not racial as few argue," he stressed.

He noted that Liberia was founded as a safe haven for Negroes (Blacks) and their descendants and no need to change that at this time.

He wants all of the lawmakers to consult their people who voted them on the issue.

"We expect, highly that our representatives and senators will return to their respective districts and counties and consult with the citizens."

"This will give clues to the following, whether this is something we are interested in or not at this time; whether we want to waste our resources on a referendum or divert it to something meaningful like Healthcare, Education, Road safety, Programs for persons disabilities among others," he said.

Fubbi also called on the Legislature to not allow Liberians to be spectators in their own country.

"We are yearning for economic freedom and certainly don't want to be spectators in our own country."

"We are requesting our Legislators to use their offices for our benefits and not those who didn't stand in long queues to vote for you. Focusing on those initiatives that will give us the decent lives we deserve is the core reason for electing you all; please don't deviate from them.

Amending Article 27b will undermine the very reason why Liberia was established and set the pace for a form of colonial rule or slavery in the not too distance future,"

He noted that the danger in amending Article 22a to accommodate non-Negroes will further plunge Liberians into slavery.

"Currently, most nations don't allow dual-citizenship."

"In that vein, they will sit in their respective countries keep their respective citizenship (because they cannot afford to trade them for Liberia's) and have controlling interest in our already striving economy and poor living standard," he concludes.

Receiving the petition on behalf of the House of Representatives, the Chairman of the House Standing Committee on Claims and Petitions, Representative Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis, welcomed the citizens' petition and promised to submit it to Plenary.

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