COALITION OF CONCERNED LIBERIANS
Official Statement of the Coalition of Concerned Liberians Addressing the Issue of Senate Rejection of Liberian Nationals with Foreign Citizenship Credentials
COALITION OF CONCERNED LIBERIANS
Tel: 240-426-2586 ● Fax 301-879-2323
John G. F. Lloyd, Chairman
Isaac Vah Tukpah, Secretary General
Joseph Baysah, Asst. Secretary General
John A. Lymas, Treasurer
February 7, 2006
IN THE CONCERTED EFFORT to ensure Liberia’s advancement from years of decadence and destruction, much emphasis has been laid upon the goals of peace, democracy, reconstruction and rehabilitation. Accordingly, these themes appropriately define the solution for our national problem. However, its has become increasingly clear through unfolding events that the desired solution of lasting peace and democracy as prerequisites to reconstruction, must be accompanied by a process of comprehensive reformation.
This process of “comprehensive reformation” cannot be limited to the ceremonial commissions for truth and reconciliation or good governance. It goes much further, as a cardinal responsibility of the elected leadership, both legislative and executive, to guarantee that the goals of lasting peace and democracy are achieved. In this bid, the available avenues must be pursued with reason and foresight to ensure that key issues are properly addressed within the laws, structures and processes for the ultimate good of Liberia.
Among the most important challenges faced by the new leadership, is the task of identifying key resources in the wake of acute brain drain and depleted capital. With this challenge at hand, elected leaders must begin to tackle the challenges of rebuilding Liberia by seeking the reintegration of a substantial number of the national population scattered around the world as a result of an unfortunate era of political upheaval. With the challenge of nation building at hand, the new trend of exploiting the issue of citizenship as litmus test for public service is unnecessary at best, and counter-productive at worst. This attempt to invoke legal technicalities into the confirmation process holds no foundation of precedence given the fact that every preceding government have utilized the services of officials at the highest level, holding foreign citizenship.
IT IS AGAINST THIS BACKGROUND that we register grave concern over the recent issue of dual citizenship as grounds for the rejection of several qualified Liberian nationals who have honorably answered to the call of patriotism by returning home to lend a hand in the process of national reconstruction. In the wake of increasing pleas to Liberians abroad to return home and “contribute their quotas” towards the reconstruction of Liberia, the rejection of those who have rightly answered to the call, is being greeted as a rejection of the service and resources of Liberians in the Diaspora. This comes at a crucial time when the condition of Liberia cries out for the help every available contributor. It is noteworthy that this gesture by the Senate comes on the heels of the recently held elections in which hundreds of thousands of Liberians abroad were deprived of the opportunity to participate.
WHILE WE RECOGNIZE the validity of law enforcement in this new era of democracy, we remain convinced that this responsibility has its place in the arena of the judiciary where both the letter and spirit of the laws are properly interpreted for the benefit of the general citizenry. With no specific law on the books prohibiting the appointment of Liberian nationals holding foreign citizenship credentials, especially considering the unusual circumstances of the past 16 years of the Liberian national experience, several provisions within the letter of the law have been comprised with actions taken to ascertain the intent of the suspended rules.
HENCE, it is important to remind lawmakers of the following comprises of the Liberian law promulgated to accommodate special circumstances within the aforementioned period of national instability:
- The suspension of the legal requirement of the ten year residency as an eligibility standard for election to public office.
- A compromise of the census requirement in order to allow the timely conduct of the recently held elections.
- The conduct of elections under rules designed to achieve the goals of a peace accord written outside the law but constructed nonetheless, to protect the intent of the Liberian laws.
- In the best interest of healing and reconstruction, despite public outcry which called for the meting of justice, criminal warlords were allowed participate in the recent elections. The law has remained silent on the actions of these elected officials, some of whom created armies in foreign lands to wreak havoc upon the Liberian nation, causing wanton destruction of human lives and property.
- The waiver of criminal charges against thousands who committed crimes against the nation and people of Liberia during the years of civil conflict.
ACKNOWLEDGING this reality, the Liberian Senate, in the exercise of its discretionary powers in the confirmation process, must consider the best interest of Liberia by referring the matters of judicial interpretation to the courts to avoid the propensity for undue actions based upon assumptions. Balanced judgment must be taken when deciding the fate of Liberian nationals who were in fact driven to live under the laws of foreign lands by virtue of the very acts of lawless warlords, the likes of some who now sit as arbiters of the fate of those whom they victimized.
CONSEQUENTLY, the ambiguity of this matter of dual citizenship of LIBERIAN NATIONALS, and the attending consequences of any attempt to render summary decisions based upon limited comprehension of the law, calls for judicial interpretation and future reformation of the governing structure, to guarantee an enabling environment for lasting peace, democracy and reconstruction. This reality leaves us to wonder about the underlying circumstances surrounding the stagnant process of presidential action to appoint the Supreme Court and assemble the third branch of government to ensure justice and the rule of law.
WE THEREFORE call upon the Liberian Senate to live up to the requirements of good judgment and sound leadership by examining the qualifications of appointed officials strictly on the merits of qualification, experience and integrity. Considering tremendous sacrifice of thousands of Liberians in the Diaspora made towards the sustenance of peace in Liberia, with hundreds of millions in remittances to the national economy, we extend this note of caution to the lawmakers and leaders of Liberia to eschew the influence of counterproductive machinations, and manifest a renewed commitment to the ideals of nation building through wisdom and sacrifice.
To this end, we also admonish the President to proceed expeditiously to assemble the judiciary to enhance a genuine and comprehensive process of reformation and reconstruction.
John G. F. Lloyd