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Sierra Leone News: Dual citizenship is a right not a crime-Sheka B. A. Mansaray

The Chief Executive Officer of Art Resourceful Tourism Sierra Leone (ARTSL), Sheka B. A. Mansaray, yesterday 11 April 2019, in a press briefing called on President Julius Maada Bio to fulfill his promise made during the campaign to become President to address the dual citizenship issue. The press conference titled ‘Dual citizens’ right to vote and be voted for, with the theme’ 20sim is a right, let’s change depriving laws was held at the Pizza Restaurant, Congo Water Junction, along Bai Bureh Road. According to him, ARTSL is a Human Rights and Development Organization championing issues of public concerns affecting Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad, disclosing the issue of dual citizenship poses not only political but socio-economics challenges to the development of the country. He disclosed the shortage of foreign currencies in the country cannot be disconnected from the refusal by well meaning Sierra Leoneans at the diaspora to send remittance for their relatives which should have forced the buying and selling prices of foreign currencies to fall. Sheka maintained the shortage of foreign currencies in the market have forced the prices of basic commodities to skyrocketed which in turn did not only affects the livelihood of the poor citizens but also the country’s economic strength. She said hundreds of Sierra Leoneans who decided to return home to contribute towards the development of their mother’s land were discriminated against on political basis, which according to him was very unfortunate at the material period. “Most of them did not achieve their dreams because of selfish and greedy politicians who chose to destroy the fabric of the country’s democracy using the archaic laws to deprive fellow Sierra Leoneans their rights to be vote and voted for,” he said. “ This a fundamental abuse of their human rights’” he said, disclosing that during the campaign period for the 2018 general elections Presidential candidates including the current President did promised to give opportunity to diaspora to cast their votes or be voted for but unfortunately its now one year and nothing has been done. He disclosed Sierra Leoneans in England are also launching the  ‘WAR’ (Wanting Access to our Rights) campaign for them to have the opportunity to exercise the franchise whenever the need arise, adding it is their rights to contribute towards the development of their country. “Dual citizenship is a right and not a crime,” he said, explaining they are aware of the fact that there are some Members of Parliament who are against their quest to gain the right to vote and be voted for simple because they are afraid of the financial strength of Sierra Leoneans at the diaspora. According to him, the act of depriving hundreds of Sierra Leoneans of their rights to be vote and voted for simple because of dual citizenship is the heaviest and most dangerous form of corruption he had ever seen in the history of democracy, citing Senegal where dual citizens enjoys the right to vote and be voted for. It could be recalled that late 2017, Lawyer Francis Gabbidon in an article called on the attention of Sierra Leoneans on provision in the country’s 1991 Constitution that ban dual citizens from holding elective and Ministerial positions. This revelation sparked off debates from all corners of the country and led to the banning of all dual citizenship holders from contesting for symbols for the 2018 election as even the Leader of NGC, Honourable Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella was taken to Court in Kambia where he was able to prove that he had denounced his US citizenship. Sierra Leoneans with single citizenship who were afraid of the economic might of dual citizens had a filed day of receiving political parties symbols to contest for the 2018 election.

By Alhaji Manika Kamara

Friday April 12, 2019.

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