Amend laws restricting rights of dual citizens – Kwaku Azar

General News of Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Source: Myjoyonline.com

2017-12-13

Prof Kwaku Asare

US-based Ghanaian professor is seeking an amendment of Ghana’s law to allow equal citizenship to dual citizens.

Prof Kwaku Asare said portions of the constitution on dual citizenship are “ambiguous”, “misunderstood and mostly misapplied” and which has led to the restrictions on the rights of dual citizens to hold certain public offices.

Rather than seeking to enforce portions of the “ambiguous” law, Prof Asare is asking the governing New Patriotic Party to forget about disqualifying dual citizens from holding office in the party and focus on amending Article 94(2) (a) of the Constitution.

Article 94 (2) of the Constitution states: “A person shall not be qualified to be a Member of Parliament if he owes allegiance to a country other than Ghana.”

Article 8(2) of the Constitution and Section 16(2) of the Citizenship Act also exclude dual citizens from holding various specified and unspecified public offices and give Parliament and the minister the power to add more office-holding exclusions.

In the Citizenship Act (no. 591), 2000 restrictions have been imposed on dual citizens from holding public offices.

In 2012, a Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Adamu Dramani Sakande was handed a two year jail term for becoming a Member of Parliament despite being a dual citizen.

Prof Asare believes these provisions are an affront to the rights of dual citizens. He has begun an advocacy for the amendment in Articles 8(2) and 94(2) (a) of the constitution.

He contended that whilst Article 94 (2) (a) made no explicit mention of dual citizens, many have extrapolated the phrase owing allegiance to another country to mean dual citizens.

He proceeds further to argue that, that phrase has nothing to do with natural born Ghanaians who are dual citizens.

“Rather it was only to apply to a foreigner who had naturalized as a Ghanaian and had obtained an extension of time to renounce his other citizenship and to take the oath of allegiance,” he told Myjoyonline.com.

“On restoration of their Ghanaian citizenship in 1996, these natural born Ghanaians were allowed to possess plural citizenship and were never subject to article 94 (2) (a),” he added.

In a memo to the Speaker, a copy of which Myjoyonline.com has, Prof Asare popularly called Kwaku Azar said the Constitution, 1992 (Article 8(1)) states that “Subject to this article, a citizen of Ghana shall cease forthwith to be a citizen of Ghana if, on attaining the age of twenty one years, he, by a voluntary act, other than marriage, acquires or retains the citizenship of a country other than Ghana.” The Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, 1992 therefore recognizes dual citizens who acquired dual citizenship by marriage or by an involuntary Act. Further, other than the aforementioned Article 94(2)(a), the Constitution 1992 did not impose any office holding exclusions on dual citizen.

Kwaku Azar therefore wants Articles 8 (2) and 94 (2) (a) of the constitution.

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