The issue of dual citizenship had been a controversial subject which came to the fore in the eve of the 2018 general elections, which resulted in the refusal of symbols to many Sierra Leoneans from the Diaspora, who were vying for parliamentary status in the All Peoples Congress (APC) party.
Indeed, this development had devastating effects on not just the individual candidates, but also on the performance of the party, as it was believed that most if not all those denied the symbol by virtue of their dual citizenship status the choice of the people in their respective constituencies.
Consequently, the eligibility of a leading opposition leader in the House of parliament was challenged on the basis of being a citizen of the United States of America. In a landmark ruling handed down on Friday 3rd September 2021, the Supreme Court laid the matter to rest by interpreting section 76 (1) (a) of the 1991 constitution, that it does not prohibit Dr Kandeh Yumkellah from being a Member of Parliament despite being a citizen of another country, and that the relevant section only applies to naturalized citizens.
The ruling made it clear that every Sierra Leonean must have equal rights to contest any election irrespective of their dual nationality from a second country, including parliamentary and presidential elections. On the other hand, naturalized citizens remain excluded until the relevant section is amended.
This ruling brought a sigh of relief to Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora, who had been victims of dual nationality despite their lofty intension to represent their people in Parliament and contribute meaningfully to the law-making process.
We want to join our compatriots in celebrating this landmark ruling. To us, the significance of this ruling goes beyond the issue of individuals in the Diaspora, but signals a new dawn in the justice system in the country.
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