Liberia: ALCOD Welcomes 'Year of the Diaspora Reunion'

Monrovia — The All-Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship (ALCOD), has welcomed Liberia's Bicentennial Celebration also dubbed as "Year of the Diaspora Reunion". This is going to be a 'reunion' in Liberia of thousands of blacks from all around the world, including diaspora Liberians, some of whom have never been to the land of their fathers and mothers. These visitors are expected to begin arriving this December 2021 and will continue coming all throughout 2022, marking Liberia's 200 years of existence.

The Year of the Diaspora Reunion 2021-2022, which has been organized in collaboration with the Government of Liberia's Bicentennial Commemoration, aims to celebrate 200 years of that movement. Agents of the American Colonization Society (ACS), which founded Liberia, purchased parcels of lands from indigenous kings in December of 1821, and freed black men and women, along with their families, began moving across the Atlantic in 1822 to what is today Liberia, formerly 'Grain Coast.'

Welcoming the Reunion, the National President of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), a partner of ALCOD, Mr. J. Shiwoh Kamara, has joined ALCOD's Eminent Chairman Emmanuel S. Wettee, to appeal to the Liberian Senate to concord with the House of Representatives on the passage of the Dual Citizenship Bill that was recently passed by the House.

The diaspora's appeal to the Senate comes in wake of reports that the Liberian Government, during the Year of the Diaspora Reunion, will be conferring Liberian citizenship on some of its guests.

"Restoring Liberian citizenship to natural born Liberians who have dual citizenship or nationality must start the Reunion," said Eminent Chairman Wettee.

One senator mentioned that the Senate needs to concur with the House in repealing the 1973 Aliens and Nationality Law as the nation celebrates the bicentennial.

The senator further stated that there is nothing unconstitutional about the 4th Session of 54th Legislature repealing a law enacted through the Fourth Regular Session of the 45th Legislature in 1973. "Any law enacted by lawmakers can be repealed by lawmakers," the Senator, who also is a Counsellor at law, said.

Another senator can't understand why the Senate will not concur with the House. For many years now, members of the Senate had introduced bills to repeal the 1973 Aliens and Nationality Law and all efforts have failed.

The senator made an interesting point of wanting to see who will award Liberian citizenship to African-Americans during the bicentennial celebration without restoring Liberian citizenship to natural-born Liberians in a 'pre-election year.

The Bill Before the Senate

The bill that Montserrado County's District #8 Representative Moses Acarous Gray championed in the HOR, was done under the auspices of ALCOD, comprising ULAA, European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA), Liberian Advocacy for Change (LAFC), Federation of Liberia Communities in Australia (FLCA), United Liberian Association of Ghana (ULAG), Liberian Association of Canada (LAC), and Conference of Liberian Organizations in Southwestern United States of America (CLOSUSA). ALCOD represents more than 500,000 Liberians living in the diaspora.

The bill specially seeks to repeal Part III, Chapter 20, Section 20.1; Chapter 21, Sections 21.30, 21.31, 21.51 & 21.52 and Chapter 22, Sections 22.1, 22.1 & 22.4 of the 1973 Aliens and Nationality Law of the Liberian Code of Law Revised, Vol. II.

The bill was co-sponsored by 30 of Rep. Gray's colleagues, including Deputy House Speaker Jonathan Fonati Koffa.

Further in their appeal to the Senate, both diaspora Liberians' leaders called on President George Manneh Weah to support the House's Bill that was passed and is now in the Senate for concurrence.

"In the spirit of 'Liberia-Bicentennial Celebration,' diaspora leaders are appealing to President Weah to support the House's Bill, repealing some sections of 1973 Aliens and Nationality Law, and ask the Senate to concur with the House. Mr. President, diaspora Liberians are returning home in record numbers for the Bicentennial Celebration and history shall remember you and each lawmaker if the Senate concurs with the House in passing the 'Dual Citizenship' bill: once a Liberian always a Liberian," ULAA President Kamara said.

Few weeks ago, Eminent Wettee had pleaded with members of the Senate to concord with the House on the passage into law of the bill.

Since 2000, some members of the Senate, had on many occasions, introduced amendments to the 1973 Aliens and Nationality Law on the Senate floor and those never passed.

The amendments had been submitted by Senators Cletus Wortoson of Grand Kru County, Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County and recently Abraham Darius Dillon of Montserrado County.

While the Senate is yet to take any major action on the ones their members have been submitting, the House has now passed a version and has sent it to the Senate for concurrence.

According to reports from the Senate, some feel that the permanent solution to dual citizenship problem is the amendment of the constitution (Articles 27 and 28) through a national referendum.

"We do agree with those who think that amending the Constitution through a national referendum is the permanent solution to resolving the issue of dual citizenship. However, we also encourage the repealing of the 1973 Aliens and Nationality Law that has to do with citizenship and in conflict with the Constitution of Liberia," Eminent Wettee said.

Meanwhile, ALCOD has extended their thanks and appreciation to all the 73 members of the HOR, including the Speaker, Dr. Bhofal Chambers, Deputy Speaker, Mr. Koffa and Rep. Gray for doing all to make some of their fellow Liberians in the diaspora, to still maintain their Liberian citizenship even though they (diaspora Liberians) also carry the passports of other nations.

ALCOD also thanked President Weah for backing their cause for the dual citizenship law to be passed. They appealed to him to lobby the Senate so that its members can concur with the House.

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