I am a citizen of Sierra Leone and constitutionally qualified to run for the presidency – says Dr Yumkella

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 January 2018

The constitutional crisis caused by president Koroma and his attorney general’s sudden realisation that they have not been good custodians of the country’s Constitution, keeps rumbling. And the debate surrounding the moral right, if not the legality of the ruling APC party’s decision to use Section 76 – Subsection (1a) of the 1991 Constitution – otherwise known as the ‘Dual Nationality Clause’, to systematically and clumsily exclude certain citizens from contesting the forthcoming elections, continues.

While supporters and party grandees of the ruling APC – including the president, have been rubbing their hands with glee and in jubilation, thinking they have successfully netted the presidential candidate of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) Party – Dr Kandeh Yumkella, in their constitutional web of attrition and conspiracy, there was a dramatic turn of events in Freetown this afternoon.

The National Grand Coalition party this afternoon invited the country’s media to a press conference, where Dr. Yumkella unceremoniously burst the ruling party’s celebratory ‘Red Party Balloon’.

This is what Dr. Yumkella told the press conference to the delight and relief of his supporters and well-wishers, about the ‘Dual Citizenship Constitutional Crisis’ that has been engineered by the ruling APC to derail the country’s democratic credentials:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Fourth Estate, my attention has been drawn to a series of articles alleging that I am currently a United States citizen and therefore unqualified to contest as a Member of Parliament and consequently for the Presidency. I was away from Sierra Leone and returned two days ago when the debate was raging.

I have convened you here today to respond to these allegations against me during the past week. I decided that in the interest of the public there is a need to clear the air and set the record straight.

It is a fact that I have had dual nationality. It is also a fact that I renounced the US citizenship to fully comply with the 1991 Constitution. I believe that the Constitution is supreme; and I am strongly of the view that the President as the Fountain of Honor and Commander -in- Chief of the Armed Forces must have allegiance to only the country he or she leads.

Thus, voluntarily and because of my firm commitment to serve my country, I renounced my US citizenship to ensure that I fully qualify to run for parliament on behalf of the people of Samu, and to contest the position of President of the republic of Sierra Leone. In other words, I made sure that I did not violate Section 76 subsection (1a) of the 1991 Constitution.

 Today, before my formal nomination at the National Electoral Commission, I categorically say to you the people of Sierra Leone, that as of this moment, I do not hold any other nationality, nor do I have allegiance to any other country.

I want to make it clear for the avoidance of any doubt, that I am a citizen of one country in the world, and that’s Sierra Leone.

I repeat, my dear compatriots that I renounced my US citizenship because I believe it is an obligation and a call of duty to do so when you are running for the highest office.

Let me now show you copies of the Certificates of Loss of Nationality received from the United States Department of State.

Concerning the alleged Austrian citizenship, this is totally not true because Austria does not allow dual citizenship (you just have to do a simple visit to their website). Thus, people are free to check with the Austrian Consul in Sierra Leone.

That said, I encourage all political leaders currently running for Parliament and the Presidency to come clean and declare their status as I have done. I have taken this step advisedly to inform the people of Sierra Leone, because I respect and honour them and I believe they deserve an explanation from me.

On another note, I have followed with keen interest the debate on and the differing views that have been proffered on the interpretation of section 76 sub-section 1 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act no. 6 of the 1991 constitution. It is refreshing to note that suddenly, respect for the 1991 Constitution has taken a centre stage.

Now let me turn to the broader issue of dual citizenship. Sierra Leoneans were granted the right to dual citizenship by the efforts of Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabba, an honourable statesman who healed this nation after 11 years of a very divisive and dehumanizing civil war. He made every effort to unify this nation by encouraging tolerance and forgiveness.

He recognized the rights of the hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters living abroad and their families to identify with their motherland, and through an Act of Parliament he granted us dual citizenship. He also encouraged political pluralism and voluntarily relinquished power when his time was over.

Today our democracy is under siege and our Constitution is being abused by a cabal that is convinced that they must hold on to power by any means.

When he was in the opposition, President Ernest Bai Koroma courted the Diaspora for support and they helped propel him to power. For 10 years Mr. Koroma had them as parliamentarians and appointed them as ministers.

In fact, it is rumoured right now that, 6 persons among his ministers and deputy ministers have dual nationality. This is not only deeply hypocritical but also a violation of the 1991 Constitution.

 President Koroma cannot claim to have been ignorant about the conflict between the 2006 citizenship amendment and the Constitution, because the issue was brought to his attention twice during his 10-year tenure.

The Peter Tucker Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) raised the issue and the Justice Cowan CRC also raised it and recommended amending the Constitution and the Government White Paper rejected the recommendation.

Section 56, of the 1991 Constitution states, “There shall be, in addition to the office Vice-President, such other offices of Ministers and Deputy Ministers as may be established by the President.” So, the President as Appointer if ministers, has a responsibility not to violate the Constitution when making ministerial appointments. Subsection 2(a) states “A person shall not be appointed a Minister or Deputy Minister unless he is qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament.”

President Ernest Koroma knew this because he was leader of the opposition in Parliament for a long time. But he knowingly appointed people with dual nationality as ministers. He knowingly granted party symbol to people holding dual nationality to serve in parliament (as you know he believes he has supreme authority).

If the issue was about legality and constitutionality, why does President Koroma still have ministers who are dual citizens in his government?

 The actions of the APC on this issue is just plain hypocrisy, and it is continuation of the selective use of the Constitution to settle political debts and witch hunting. Mr. President is knowingly stirring up a constitutional crisis on the threshold of the March 2018 elections, and perhaps still pushing the “more time agenda”.

Let us face the fact that the Sierra Leone People’s Party is also complicit in this duplicity. They approved all the Presidents ministerial appointments. They never provided true debate of appointments or challenge laws and bills sent to the Parliament. They approved front and shady companies and instruments put before them to loot this nation. This is why we need change. We in the NGC will continue to expose the hypocrisy and duplicity of the APC-led government.

Since I have come clean on the allegations of dual nationality against me, I am calling on all other Presidential Aspirants who face similar allegation to come out clean. These include Samura Kamara who, it is alleged may be holding a British passport; Chernor Maju Bah – whom it is alleged does not have Sierra Leonean citizenship; and Julia Maada Bio, who may be holding both Ghanaian and British citizenship.

 The NGC also demands that all current ministers with dual nationality should resign with immediate effect. As a political party, the NGC will explore all possible legal measures to ensure that section 92 of the 1991 Constitution is enforced.

By wilfully and unintentionally spreading false rumours that I will be disqualified from running as a candidate for parliament and for the Presidency, the Ernest Koroma led APC government has clearly shown how worried they have become about the great prospect of the NGC winning the 2018 elections.

Our compatriots in the diaspora should be rest assured that we the NGC will grant them the right to vote, and we will re-visit section 76 of the 1991 constitution to amend the discriminatory sub-sections.

I want to seize this opportunity to appeal to all NGC supporters nationwide to stay the course and mobilise for victory. (End of Dr Yumkella’s statement).

7 Comments

  1. Kandeh Yumkella has set a straight record. His decision to renounced his citizenship by nationality for presidential vacancy, is a clear testament of a true patriot and awesome Sierra Leonean, for he stand to believe in his ideal of change. May the Holy hands of our Heavenly Father empower him with the spirit of a divine fighter to win the office of president in Sierra Leone, come March 2018 general election.

    I stand to support the attorney general of Sierra Leone. Whether his pronouncements was for political gain or for the protection and integrity of Sierra Leone, all we now know, there’s a merit. Sierra Leone should restore the constitutional law against dual citizenship: That all persons with dual citizenship should never be entrusted with the power of parliamentarian neither presidency.

    If you want to belong you belong fully, not half-heartedly. Yumkella is a respecter of Sierra Leoneans aspirations by renouncing his citizenship by nationality. God bless you Kandeh and our beloved country Sierra Leone. It is well with Sierra Leone.

  2. My brother Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, may God bless you and may He be with you to redeem Sierra Leone. Just watch Donald Trump how bold he is. That’s what they call leadership. APC’s tenure of office is over. Thanks

  3. For this Government to be so economical with the truth in this matter of dual citizenship is mind blowing and they got this so wrong. This issue had given them so much hope of dislodging opponents that they failed to realise the repercussions. It was shocking to hear the deputy information minister saying that the US does not recognise dual citizenship.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong in being a dual citizen and Sierra Leoneans should be proud of being one. It does not make them less patriotic than those who don’t have.. Diasporans are contributing immensely towards our economy in remittances, creating jobs for local people through their businesses and building projects, paying school and college fees, etc.

    What some of our people have achieved abroad would not have been possible in Sierra Leone where opportunities are so limited to the very few at the top. Kandeh has done the right thing to comply with the law but the President should now turn his attention to those in his government, whose positions have become entirely untenable, so that they do the decent thing by resigning. Otherwise they may leave themselves open for prosecution as they are now fully aware that they are breaking the law.

  4. History has shown us that Sierra Leoneans with dual citizenships or exposures and training are amongst the best leaders we have ever had. Our founding fathers such as Sir Milton Margai who was a United Kingdom trained medical doctor was married to a white woman and we gladly elected him to be our first head of state and Prime minister in 1961 when Sierra Leone gained her independence from Great Britain.

    We can talk of Dr John Karefa-Smart whose wife was from West Indies and the main man that actually supported Saika Stevens in 1967 general elections to gain the maximum members of parliaments at the expense of the SLPP as he mobilised his supporters to vote for APC in that election due to the pull him down and disgraceful nature of Berthan Macaulay as Attorney General and Minister of Justice in sidelining Dr Kerefa-Smart who was then deputy Prime Minister for Albert Margai as prime minister after the death of Sir Milton Margai.

    Of the 56 years since Sierra Leone had gained her independence, 16 years of those were executed by the SLPP party as forming the ruling party and government of Sierra Leone and nearly 36 years of that time had been governed by the current APC government.

    Statistics can show the good, the bad the ugly of these two parties to the livelihood and socio-economic benefits under these two parties. Currently Sierra Leone as a nation is the hungriest country in the West Africa Sub-region and the third hungriest country to live in in planet earth despite the fact that the past SLPP led government was handed over a government under civil war due to the bad leadership and governance of the previous APC led government.

    The current APC led government were handed a government in 2007 with over 500 Billion leones as government revenue and no internal debt whilst the external debt of nearly US$2 billion where waived out due to the sound government policies in satisfying the requirements stipulated by external sources to do so. Sierra Leone was left in a spring board of sound socio-economic liberalizations and progress.

    But of the over 10 years of the current APC led government our external debt has ballooned to over US$2/00 BILLIONS DOLLARS AGAIN AND OUR INTERNAL DEBTS ARE OVER 6/00 TRILLIONS LEONES.

    Youth unemployment is over 75%; and over 65% of the population live below the poverty level, earning less than $1.25c a day. The APC party has ambushed the judiciary and the freedom of justice and smooth trials are curtailed as the the magistrates, judges and justices and the anti-corruption agencies are under the control of the ruling APC party despite institutionalized leakages and bankrupt economy.

    Over 60% of the current APC government expenditure are on salaries of their so-called public/government employees in which the current president is earning over US$32000/00 a month, on a salary scale of US$400,000 per year. The chief anti-corruption czar is on a salary scale of US$ 15000 a month and the average medical doctor is now having about US$800-1000 a month; and a school teacher on a salary scale of about US$30-50 a month etc since the public/government sector made up about 90% of the available jobs/employments in Sierra Leone.

    The APC led government is now discouraging Sierra Leoneans of dual citizenships whose financial and material resources are funding/supporting the masses from endemic starvation, providing opportunities for advances for the masses by their had work and talent maximization that will have been latent and buried if they had been home in Sierra Leone.

    Please Mr EB Koroma the two best Sierra Leonean leaders under whose leadership history of Sierra Leone can be proud, such as Sir Milton Margai and Dr Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, can in a true sense of the word dual citizens. See the tremendous development, progress, opportunities for advancement that the populace enjoyed under their leadership compared to others who have lead and governed mother Sierra Leone.

  5. “Let us face the fact that the Sierra Leone People’s Party is also complicit in this duplicity. They approved all the Presidents ministerial appointments. They never provided true debate of appointments or challenge laws and bills sent to the Parliament. They approved front and shady companies and instruments put before them to loot this nation. This is why we need change.”-KKY

    The SLPP as a party is or was not complicit in what Dr. Yumkella alleges. Since 2013 when the SLPP as a party recognized that the minority leader in parliament Dr Bernadette Lahai (who I understand is now a registered member of the NGC) was corrupt and not fit for purpose, the party and its MPs in parliament attempted to remove her as minority leader.

    Surprisingly, most of the rebel politicians in the SLPP then – including Andrew Kailie, Isata Jabbie, Julius Spencer, and Dr. Bright, sided with Dr. Lahai against the party that they professed to belong. Did Isata Jabbie boast that even though she was the women’s leader, she stopped paying her party dues since 2012?

    The APC knew that SLPP had strong rebels among its ranks and so was incapable of mounting any legal challenge, and this was what the APC sympathetic High Court Judge Hon. Justice Charm (now Chief Justice) needed to annul the move by the SLPP leadership and MP in getting Dr. Lahai to stay in power as Minority leader as she continued to push and rubber stamp APC agendas and not representing her party or her constituents.

    Have you ever heard of a Minority Leader of a party nominating a non-legal person of the running party for the post of Speaker against her party’s nominated legal luminary? Only in Sierra Leone and only with Bernadette Lahia was that made possible. Thank God she left and joined her colleagues in the NGC.

    The SLPP therefore was not complicit. It was Bernadette Lahai and rebel SLPP members who have since left the party for other political parties including the NGC.

  6. This is just an opener. Well done Kandeh. In you APC have an inferno, a very dangerous tide, a tsunami, an earthquake – all boxed up in one. In the midst of all this Kandeh, you are a riddle that is puzzling Ernest Koroma and his gangsters so much that they are beginning to lose weight because of lack of sleep.

    The major characteristic of APC is that they are prone to not playing by the rules of anything. Being forced to do do so by the forceful nature of NGC is anathema to them.

    Hitting below the belt is how APC have always brought their opponents down, but this time they are dealing with an opponent who is capable of hitting below the belt just as hard – no holds barred.

    I can see APC rolling out tanks but, in you Kandeh, they are already finding out that your arsenal contain the most well accomplished anti tank weapons ever known in the political arena.

    As election day draws closer, the rank and file in APC won’t be sure which Kandeh is real and which is not because of multiple visions which NGC will have inflicted on them.

    To be continued.

  7. Unethically and selectively exploiting DUAL NATIONALITY provisions in The Constitution has now factually and legally boomeranged!
    Why has The Inspector-General of Police not arrested all MPs, Ministers, and others who had contravened this law if he is neutral?????
    Is it true that the late President Tejan Kabba amended it somehow?

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