By KABS KANU
THE Government Spokesman, Mr. Agibu Tejan -Jalloh , has called to confirm rumours that started circulating today that the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) will be adhering to Section 76(1) , Act No. 6 of the 1991 constitution , in awarding symbols for the forthcoming Parliamentary elections.
The law above states that no person shall be qualified for election as a member of Parliament, if he is a naturalized citizen of Sierra Leone or if he 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..
Asked by Cocorioko why the APC took the decision only now, Mr. Agibu Jalloh said that the law had been there and that the decision was taken to avoid petitions against MPs after they would have won the forthcoming elections.
Mr. Jalloh disclosed that even the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) adhered to the same law in awarding symbols to aspirants for parliamentary seats for the upcoming elections.
“It is a cautionary measure to avoid our MPs being petitioned by the opposition . If any MP holds a dual citizenship, he will have problems with the law and we as the.ruling party cannot be found violating the law, ” he explained.
The measure does not affect anybody born abroad, because they did not take any voluntary steps to procure another citizenship. However, anybody who voluntarily moved to be a citizen of another country is barred by law to become MP or President.
The Government Spokesman further disclosed that the APC started issuing symbols to parliamentary aspirants today . Falaba and Tonkolili districts aspirants received symbols today and the process will continue with other districts tomorrow.
Asked what options were open for aspirants who will be affected by the decision, Mr. Jalloh responded that holders of British citizenship could go to the High Commission today and renounce their citizenship, but in the case of aspirants with American citizenship, they will have to travel to the U.S to do it. However, the party will have to submit names of all aspirants awarded symbol to the National Elections Commission ( NEC ) by the deadline on January 10.
The rumor that the APC will be going by the dual citizenship clause started circulating in the social media this afternoon. Many people did not believe .
However, the former Ombudsman, Lawyer Francis Gabbidon , as far back as October last year had warned that according to the 1991 constitution, Sierra Leoneans holding dual citizenship will not be qualified to be parliamentarians.