Citizenship is about the right to belong to a state and enjoy its rights while also fulfilling obligations. Without citizenship, a person can neither vote nor be voted into public office. Such statelessness has, in many an African country, been at the heart of numerous post-colonial conflicts. From Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa to Uganda and Kenya in East Africa through to Zambia and Zimbabwe in Southern Africa, the question of who is or is not a citizen is frequently a fiercely contested and unsettled issue. Often, the question of who is and is not a citizen has been politically driven, for example, to prevent a political rival from challenging the incumbent, or to abridge the right to vote of a whole group of perceived enemies of the regime in power. This is part of the repertoire of juridical exclusion and discrimination that is widespread throughout the continent.
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