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Dual Citizenship: Factor In 2017 Elections?

NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoyah

“Dual citizenship, is it a factor in 2017 elections?  The settlers who came centuries ago and settled here came from Americas and today Liberia’s national leadership is primarily decided in the United States. When people want power they run to the United States to seek favor. People have Green Cards and are living in the States and here…. What negative impact the so-called dual citizenship has had on previous elections Chairman Korkoya conducted since his appointment at NEC? Every Commissioner shall be a Liberian citizen, be of age not less than 35, and shall be of good moral character.”  

Liberians have turned their screen board on the doors of the National Elections Commission Chairman, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, following what appears to be a leaked document about him, alleging that he has a dual citizenship, but there are  divided opinions on the issue in different quarters.

Allegedly, Chairman Korkoyah  has both ECOWAS and American passports and his accusers said  he voted as an American citizen during the 2008 American elections, but he has sharply refuted the claims and challenged anyone to carry him to court and prove the allegations.

The crux of the accusers’ concern is that Chairman Korkoya should resign as head of the NEC because, in their minds, he is not a Liberian citizen to lead the electoral process that will determine the next national leadership of Liberia, but he has resisted the call as well.

One of the main stakeholders pushing the resignation campaign against Chairman Korkoya is Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh, who has called on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to terminate  Korkoya’s service at NEC, claiming that there are several proofs to that effect that he has a dual citizenship status.

For  Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, he is quoted in Daily Observer  as saying that Chairman Korkoya  may have committed perjury if  it is true that he bears an American passport.

Cllr. Gongloe was quick to quote Section 2.3 of the Election Laws of Liberia, which speaks of qualifications of appointees to the NEC, stating, “Every Commissioner shall be a Liberian citizen, be of age not less than 35, and shall be of  good moral character.”

However, there are political parties , including the Coalition for Democratic Change of Senator George Weah, the Movement for Progressive Change of Simeon Freeman, likewise ordinary Liberians who are opposed to the call for Korkoya’s resignation based on accusations that he holds ECOWAS and American passports, and that he reportedly voted in American elections in 2008.

For those defending Chairman Korkoya to stay on and conduct the pending presidential and legislative elections, they argue that he had held successful elections since his appointment by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, one of the such elections being the 20 14 Special Senatorial election.

Others have also argued that when Cllr. Korkoya was nominated for the position which he had to go for confirmation hearing at the National Legislature, the Senate, or citizens who knew about his alleged dual citizenship, would have flagged the issue to deny him being confirmed and later commissioned by President Sirleaf.

Over the past almost twelve years, many appointees of the Unity Party-led government have kept their families abroad, particularly in the United States why they are working in Liberia. There are some who are accused of buying houses in the States.

It can be recalled that during the first term of the regime, former Public Works Minister Losene Donzo appeared for confirmation hearing at the Capitol Building and admitted being a citizen of America but was still confirmed.

“Dual citizenship, is it a factor in 2017 elections?  The settlers who came centuries ago and settled here came from Americas and today Liberia’s national leadership is primarily decided in the United States. When people want power they run to the United States to seek favor. People have Green Cards and are living in the States and here,” a former employee of the UP-led government commented on the issue Tuesday in Monrovia.

The former employee argued that what Liberians need to contemplate on presently is how to develop the country and that it is only sincere Liberians who can do that.

According to him, calling for Korkoya’s resignation based on his alleged dual citizenship status is an attempt to distract the attention of the citizens from the processes leading to the holding of free, fair and credible elections, wondering, “ What negative impact the so-called dual citizenship has had on previous elections Chairman Korkoya conducted since his appointment at NEC?”