Opinions Tue, 13 Jun 2006

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Dual-Citizens Should Have No Place In Ghanaian Politics

Given that Mr. Lawrence Akwasi Prempeh's failed a vetting for a deputy ministerial position due to his dual nationality I feel the need to say my opinion about double nationality. My opinion is that the constitution should absolutely prevent any individual with a dual nationality from holding any political position (either by appointment or by election) on the basis that it constitutes a conflict of allegiance that can leave the security and progress of the nation prone to compromise - a compromise that can result in very grave endings. Should a conflict come up between the two countries that such a person is a citizen of it will be very detrimental to Ghana if he chooses to defend his other country.

In the event of an internal strife a dual-citizen Ghanaian politician may not hesitate to accept to an offer to be evacuated to the safety of his other country instead of making efforts to bring calm. While it serves as sanctuary for them, it is not good to leaves the country in the hands of politicians who have their assets (and in some cases immediate families) in other countries. The picture looks even grimmer when you consider that the dual citizen at the center of the issue could be a person from a different country who has acquired a Ghanaian citizenship in addition.

If you think that my concern is far-fetched do not look far. Consider the plight of Liberia. Liberia has the potential to be one of the richest countries in the continent but the influx of freed American slaves who considered themselves Americans and Liberians at the same time set the stage for the horrendous state that we see the country in today. Liberia is about the size of Ghana with a population (before the war) comparable to that of only Greater Accra. It has a profusion of natural resources, a long shoreline, and one of the best rainfall patterns in all of Africa. In the face of all, the Americo-Liberians, Kongoh people, as they referred to in Liberia, made very little effort to assimilate themselves into the population and build the country.

They saw no need to improve the lives of the natives whose descendants would, in future, fight with theirs for control of the country. Knowing that their children would attend schools in America, the Kongohs set up a school system whose standard is, without a doubt, much lower than all English-speaking Africans. While the Ghana emblem depicts cocoa and gold and says 'Freedom and Justice', that of Liberia shows the landing of freed slaves with the words 'The love of Liberty brought us here', thus disregarding the native majority. In short, the mixing of dual citizens in Liberian politics created a bomb in 1847 that laid dormant until Samuel Kayon Doe ignited it in 1980. The impact of the bomb has other lasting effects. In the recent Liberian elections, a high school dropout almost won the presidency over a Harvard-trained economist because most natives still saw it as one of their kind, Mr. George Weah versus a Kongoh, Mrs. Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson.

I know that I am using a worst-case scenario that existed for over a century to warn about a danger that is still in formation but every long journey begins with a single step and the way to avoid that journey altogether is not to take the first step. To denounce ones nationality is as easy as walking to the embassy in Accra and handing over one's citizenship and travel documents. If a would-be politician of dual-citizenship finds this difficult to do, then that person is either not ready or willing to help Ghana with his acquired skills.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Amonu, Kofi

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