MONROVIA – Citizens United for Constitutional Democracy-CUFCOD, a local pro-democracy and rights advocacy group which specializes in tabulating population perception based constitutional governance and democratic governance issues has released its latest survey which states that 80% of Liberians want double nationality (dual citizenship).
“This representative survey on voters’ appetite for the country’s upcoming December 8 national referendum that seeks to drive a predictable pattern in which voters are likely to take in the amendments to certain provisions of the Liberian constitution-tabulated responses from the various segments of the Liberian society including tertiary institutions, business and banking institutions, academics, human rights groups, women and youth representatives, students, the elderly, and election experts, a statement from CUFCOD issued in Monrovia today quotes its press service director Augustine Wombiah as saying.
The result of over 5000 respondents who answered questionnaires from its research conducted from January to June 2020 across 10 of Liberia’s political subdivisions, according to the rights group-reveals that 45% male respondents expressed a “Yes” vote for the proposal on dual citizenship-while 35% female respondents followed a similar pattern during the survey. Ten percent of the study’s respondents showed limited interest in the pending referendum, while the remaining 10% of the participants showed no interest at all.
Montserrado is said to have accounted for 60% of the survey’s respondents, followed by Nimba and Bong Counties who accounted for ten and seven percent respectively. Lofa, Margibi, Bassa, Maryland, Sinoe, Bomi, and Grand Cape Mount counties shared the remaining 13% of the research’s questionnaires.
“When asked which of the proposals stood as the touchiest, at least 68% of the participants underscored dual citizenship as the most centrally discussed proposal surrounding the impending referendum,” CUFCOD statement indicated.
“Most of the participants informed CUFCOD’s researchers that approving dual citizenship would conform to international best practice, end years of isolation of certain segment of the country’s population, and that it would lead to increased direct foreign investment, employments, empowerment opportunities, and enhancement of infrastructure development in the country.”
It may be recalled that debate over dual citizenship in Liberia dates as far back as the country’s foundation. Founded by freed slaves from the United States of America, the population of Liberia has remained strongly divided on the issue.
Although the Liberian constitution explicitly defines citizenship to people of Negro descent, a provision which is backed by 30% of the country’s 4.5 million people who fear such change in the constitution could lead to massive land grab spree by the wealthy-the survey also reveals that 50% of the population is in favor of double nationality for the tiny post-war country has experienced years of economic stagnation with limited opportunities for its population.
Hence, this research was intended to explore the general attitude of voters and how they are thinking, and to determine the voting pattern ahead of the election.
Benefits of Dual Citizenship
Recent statistics from Liberia’s Post and Telecommunications Ministry uncovered that a significant number of the country’s population is being heavily supported by families from oversea, especially the United States of America, where close to half a million Liberians are seeking grainer pasture.
These diaspora Liberians, according to the CUFCOD’s survey, have been the backbones of their relatives back home who seriously relied on hundreds of thousands of United States Dollars in remittances accumulated from their compatriots residing in the USA, Europe, and other parts of the globe, to send their children to school and support their daily livelihoods back home.
These, according to the Survey, are amongst the numerous economic and financial benefits the country continues to enjoy as a result of continued family support to thousands of Liberians who are receiving monthly from their relatives, family members, and loved ones who reside in the Americas and elsewhere across the world.
Other reports also point to a glaring indication that Liberia stands to get huge foreign direct investment and vast infrastructure investment if dual citizenship is approved in the country-which would also fall in line with best international protocols guaranteeing the rights and freedom to obtain one’s nationality for people of different heritage.
Aside from the economic and financial benefits that Liberia stands to achieve if dual citizen is made law in the country, observers say such move would provide opportunity for hundreds of Liberian citizens born abroad to have equal rights and opportunity for their mother land.
“This is not about giving the white man the right to become citizens of Liberia. It’s about seeing the need to provide every Liberian citizen the chance to feel at home, including who left this country due fear of their lives, and those who sought refuge in the USA and elsewhere due to the country’s civil war,” Roland Enders, a leading rights advocate in the country informed researchers during the conduct of the survey.
So Where are We Now?
Lingering debate over whether or not to grant non-negro descent the right to citizenship in Liberia has been around for more than seven decades and it appears the decisive moment in this highly contentious discourse is would be decided when Liberians go to the polls in a national referendum on December 8, 2020 to take a definite position on whether or not their country should steak to its current definition of who should bear Liberian citizenship or to do a change that would reflect present day reality with all its positive indicators clearly visible on the wall.
Of the four main proposals forming part of the expected referendum, dual citizenship, according to CUFCOD’s latest study, topped their priority listing and has preoccupied the minds of the research’s participants, followed by reduction in the tenures of the President (from 6-5 years), Senators (from 9-7 years), Representatives (from 6-5 years), including the proposal of 30% women’s participation in the country’s governance and body politics, among others, CUFCOD’s study has uncovered.
The exercise is anticipated to be carried out in a popular referendum in straight compliance with article 50 of the Liberian constitution.
The research concludes that given the overwhelming benefits that Liberia is poised to accrue, coupled with the optimistic responses gathered and corroborated from the survey’s respondents, the issue of dual citizenship in Liberia is likely to see its way through the impending referendum that analysts say promises to bring a landmark history that would engender national unity and promote infrastructure development, thus putting an end to the chapter of exclusivity-as well as opening up renewed opportunities for inclusivity in the country’s body politics and governance spheres.
The compilation of this representative survey report was peer reviewed, corroborated, and concluded on September 10, 2020.