Source: Francis Gabbidon, Barrister-at-Law
By Francis Gabbidon – Barrister –at –Law and Lecturer in International Human Rights Law at Fourah Bay College.
I have been reading in the newspapers of a number of Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora who will be coming home to set up or register new political parties. Some I am told will be seeking the symbol of some political parties to contest in the elections next year for membership of Parliament.
All this is good news in principle, to see our brothers and sisters getting involved in politics and good governance.
Dual Citizens and Non Dual Citizens from the diaspora can also Vote in Sierra Leone only if they register as our election laws do not allow Sierra Leoneans to vote in overseas countries.
Sierra Leoneans who hold DUAL CITIZENSHIP are not allowed to contest in the elections for MEMBERSHIP of Parliament; either as a candidate for a political party or as an independents candidate.
Naturalized citizens also cannot contest for membership of Parliament.
Section 76(1) of the 1991 Constitution, Act no 6 of 1991 states, “no person shall be qualified for election as a member of Parliament (a) if he is a naturalized citizen of Sierra Leone or is a citizen of a country other than Sierra Leone having become such a citizen voluntarily or is under a Declaration of Allegiance to such a country”.
Dual citizens who take the risk of contesting for membership of parliament and wins can have their victory invalidated by a successful petition by their opponents in the courts.
Similar laws exist in other countries. Recently in Australia the High Court invalidated the Deputy Prime Minister’s Election after it was discovered that he held dual citizenship. Barnaby Joyce the former Deputy Prime Minister was discovered to be a citizen of New Zealand and also of Australia after his election to the Australian Parliament.
The High Court of Australia stated in the judgement to the petition.
“at the date of his nomination Mr. Joyce was incapable of being chosen or sitting as a member of the House of Representative because he was a citizen of New Zealand” said the Court.
Australia’s Constitution Bars dual citizens from sitting in Parliament defining them as “any person who is under any Acknowledgement of Allegiance, Obedience or Adherence to another country”.
Consequently as Sierra Leoneans with dual citizenship cannot be elected members of parliament they cannot also be appointed Ministers of Government by the President.
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