Finding An Alternative To Legalization Of Dual Citizenship…Exploring The Indian “Dual Citizenship” Model

Brewerville, Monsterrado County – 1 March 2-15: Yesterday, the pastor of New Water in the Desert Assembly (NWIDA), the headquarters congregation of the Apostolic Pentecostal Church (APC) called upon Ordinary Liberians to stand up against dual citizenship to avoid recreating the age-old “Americo-Liberian – Country” Divide that plunged the country into a bloody coup and a devastating civil war to undermine its sting and influence over the country. Rev. Dr. Kortu K. Brown spoke during Sunday Divine and Thanksgiving Worship Service on March 1, 2015. He argued again that the current dual citizenship drive is not timely and a priority for reconstruction and development.

COUNTRIES WHERE DUAL ZCITIZENSHIP IS STILL QUESTIONABLE

The Pentecostal cleric averred that “there are those who argue that the country will not be developed until it embraces dual citizenship”. However, statistics show that there are more than 65 countries – some very powerful countries in the world which do not promote dual citizenship and have considerably developed. According to immihelp.com, countries where “Dual Citizenship Generally Not Allowed After U.S. Naturalization include Algeria, Andorra, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brunei, Burundi, Cameroon, Chile, China, Congo, Cuba, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Monaco, Mongolia, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, New Guinea, Nicaragua, Niger, North Korea, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Papua, Príncipe Island, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone?, Singapore, South Korea, Sudan,Swaziland, Sweden, Tonga, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela,Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe”. Liberia is not included on this list and the country is not alone wrestling with the issue of whether or not to recognize dual citizenship.

DIVIDED LOYALTY

Agreed with“Zhang and Associates, P.C.”, American Immigration Attorneys and Counselors, the general overseer of the Apostolic Pentecostal Church avers the real challenge with dual citizenship is “divide loyalty”. Because more influential Liberians with foreign connections have shown more loyalty to foreign states than their country of birth, Bishop Brown argues that the question of divide loyalty cannot be ignored in this citizenship debate. When Liberians who have resided in foreign countries are dismissed, they reverted to their new country of residence where they hold greater loyalty and willing to follow the laws of that country than their country of birth. This is even more evidential in times of crisis i.e. civil war, Ebola, etc. “How can you rely on such people as true citizens of the state”, he pondered

Zhang and Associates, P.C. argues that some factors that might raise concern about this “One Citizen-Two Countries” proposalare:

  1. Having dual citizenship, possessing a foreign passport
  2. Using another country’s passport
  3. Military service for another country
  4. Accepting benefits from another country (medical, educational, retirement, welfare, etc.) which could compromise your allegiance to your country of birth
  5. Prolonged residence in a foreign country
  6. Seeking or holding office in another country
  7. Voting in another country’s elections
  8. Otherwise serving in the interests of another country over those of the United States

INDIAN MODEL OF DUAL CITIZENSHIP

Rev. Dr. Brown, First Vice President of the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) is therefore proposing an alternative to the dual citizenship proposal, which is that Liberia adopts the Republic of India model of dual citizenship dubbed as the “Overseas Citizens of India” (OCI), NOT a Dual Citizenship. Despite all the news coverage and excitement over this issue, the Constitution of India DOES NOT allow dual citizenship, i.e., simultaneously holding Indian citizenship and citizenship of a foreign country.

According to www.immihelp.com, “The Government of India has decided to grant Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI), which most people mistakenly refer to as ‘dual citizenship.’ Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) of certain categories who migrated from India and acquired citizenship of a foreign country, other than Pakistan and Bangladesh, are eligible to be granted an OCI as long as their home countries allow dual citizenship in some form or the other under their local laws.

“If you get an OCI, it is NOT the same as being a regular Indian citizen:You do not get an Indian passport. There is no such thing as an OCI passport; You have no voting rights; You cannot be a candidate for LokSabha/RajyaSabha/Legislative Assembly/Council or a member of the House of the People or of the Council of States; You cannot hold constitutional posts such as President, Vice President, Judge of Supreme Court/High Court, etc.; and, You cannot normally hold employment in the Government of India;Cannot acquire agricultural or plantation properties in India. However, such a person can inherit such properties”

The benefit of Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) is to ensure a large number of Indian Diaspora will utilize this scheme for hassle-free travel to their motherland. They will bring economic value and benefits to the Indian economy and contribute to the development process.

Overseas Citizens of Liberia (OCL)

The apostolic cleric therefore suggests that the country promulgates a law creating the “Overseas Citizens of Liberia” for all persons of Liberian birth, provided that OCL status holders are not permitted to carry Liberian passports, vote in local elections, stand as candidate for any elected office, hold constitutional offices of President, Vice President, Lawmaker, Judge, Cabinet minister, etc.; hold senior level appointment posts in government, etc.

Overseas Citizens of Liberia (OCL) will be entitled to travel documents, dubbed “OCL Booklet” to enable them freely travel to their motherland and participate in the socio-economic development of the country, amongst others. They may own properties and engage in any lawful business of their choice, amongst others.

MAY GOD BLESS AND PROSPER LIBERIA, OUR DEAR COUNTRY!

Signed: Rev. Dr. Kortu K. Brown, Church Pastor / New Water in the Desert Assembly,                                        

General Overseer / Apostolic Pentecostal Church, First Vice President / Liberia Council of Churches

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