‘George Oppong Weah Presidency would be risky for Liberia’

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
September 1, 2005


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I came away very disappointed after reading Mr. Bargblor's piece: Dual Citizenship and its Importance to Liberia’s Economic Development. The piece contains substantial and material misrepresentations.

Mr. Bargblor writes: "There exists a prevailing perception among Liberians, that when a Liberian becomes a naturalized US citizen, the individual loses his Liberian citizenship. This point of view is indeed incorrect." Perhaps, Mr. Bargblor has obviously not read the Liberian Constitution
<http://www.georgekfahnbulleh.com/docs/constitutionofLiberia.pdf> or the Alien and Naturalization Laws
<http://www.georgekfahnbulleh.com/docs/LiberiaAlienlaw.pdf> of Liberia.

Section 22.1 (Acts Causing Loss of Citizenship) of the Alien and Naturalization Laws of Liberia states:

From and after the effective date of this title, a person who is a citizen of Liberia whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his citizenship by

(a) Obtaining naturalization in a foreign state upon his own application, upon the application of a duly authorized agent, or through the naturalization of a parent having legal custody of such person; provided that citizenship shall not be lost by any person under this section as the result of the naturalization of a parent or parents while such person under the age of 21 years, unless such person shall fail to enter Liberia to establish a permanent residence prior to his twenty-third birthday;

Clearly the Laws of Liberia do not allow dual citizenships.

Additionally when one is dealing with the law, one must read the "letter of the law," as well as the "spirit of the law." While the letter of American law does allow for dual citizenship, the spirit of American Law does not. The spirit of American law with regards to dual citizenship is enshrined prior case law, the most specific of which is Kawakita v the United States <http://straylight.law.cornell.edu/anncon/html/art3frag62_user.html> . The US Supreme Court ruled "An American citizen, owes allegiance to the United States wherever he may reside, and dual nationality does not alter the situation." Full Supreme Court Ruling <http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=343&invol=717> It is clear despite the talk the "US allows dual citizenship" the spirit of the Kawakita ruling does not. After all, which country will accept that allegiance of its citizens must always be secondary to that of the US?

Even more significantly, Liberia supporting dual-nationality would in effect create 3 distinct classes of citizens.
1) the natural-born Liberian - who is only a Liberian citizen
2) the naturalized Liberian - who may or may not be a citizen of another country which does not require primary allegiance
3) the dual-national Liberian - who owes his allegiance to the United States first.

What is the value, to Liberia, of citizenship for the citizen who is only a citizen of Liberia as opposed to the American-Liberian who owes his/her primary allegiance to America. Do we want the latter to serve in sensitive government positions? Can the latter be entrusted with the interest of the country when his/her allegiance is owes to the US? What happens when the latter commits crimes against the Liberian people and absconds to America? Will Liberia be faced with the same situation Peru finds itself in with former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, who fled to Japan and claimed his Japanese citizenship?

Mr. Bargblor writes:"Dual citizenship would help Liberian businessmen/women to transact and move freely, especially in and out of the United States." This is another fallacy. Permanent residents have the same freedom of movement as do citizens of the United States. Businessmen and businesswomen who are doing business between the United States and Liberia can receive a multiple entry visa, which allows them to travel freely to the US to transact their business.

The proponents of dual-citizenship always seem to present US Citizenship as the only option for foreign nationals who live in the US and want to succeed. This is patently untrue.

Mr. Bargblor asks: will it be fair to deny any of the children born outside of Liberia of Liberian parentage from contesting the Liberian Presidency in the future because, they have dual citizenship?

Again Mr. Bargblor is obviously unfamiliar with Article 28 of the Liberian Constitution, which clearly states:

Any person, at least one of whose parents was a citizen of
Liberia at the time of the person's birth, shall be a citizen of Liberia; provided that any such person shall upon reaching maturity renounce any other citizenship acquired by virtue of one parent being a citizen of another country. No citizen of the Republic shall be deprived of citizenship or nationality except as provided by law; and no person shall be denied the right to change citizenship or nationality.

What I found most striking about Mr. Bargblor's piece is that he cited the constitution and laws of other countries, but never once did he make a single citation of the Liberian laws and Constitution. He accorded the Constitution of Liberia no importance. This is the fear, many Liberians have, in their opposition to dual citizenship: to those who have dual nationality the Constitution and Laws of Liberia simply do not matter.

If we are to have a serious discussion about Liberia allowing dual citizenships, we should at least begin that discussion with the acknowledgement that Liberia does have a Constitution and Laws regarding citizenship, in spite of what Mr. Bargblor thinks.