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You are stuck in the 18th century if you equate citizenship to allegiance – Kwaku Azar

BY: Prof. Stephen Kwaku Asare
Prof. Stephen Kwaku Asare
Prof. Stephen Kwaku Asare

The Constitution [1992] did not permit Ghanaians to hold dual citizenship. Therefore, article 94(2)(a) is not a dual-citizenship office-holding exclusionary clause.

Article 94(2)(a) provides that “a person shall not be qualified to be a member of Parliament if he owes allegiance to a country other than Ghana.”

It does not provide that “a person shall not be qualified to be a member of Parliament if he is a citizen of a country other than Ghana.”

Because the Constitution did not even permit dual citizenship, article 94(2)(a) was directed to mono-Ghanafuo who owed allegiance to other countries, through actions such as joining their military, spying for them (e.g., the Soussodis exchanges), giving comfort to Ghanafuo’s enemies, or affirming allegiance to other countries for other non-citizenship related reasons!!!!

The distinction between allegiance and citizenship, which is challenging for many people to understand, let alone to appreciate, was well illustrated in Bilson v Rawlings where Rawlings affirmed that he was born a Britishfuo in 1949 and also became a Ghanafuo in May 1957, an affirmation that was of no consequence to his qualification to run for office because Justice Esslifie-Bondzie properly focused on his allegiance not citizenships.

So a proper resolution in this Assin North case has nothing to do with when or if Canadian bureaucrats acted on the MP’s application to renounce his citizenship but rather what the MP did, and when, with respect to his allegiance to Ghana.

After all countries may choose to make it difficult for citizens to renounce their citizenships. US for instance has bumped the renunciation fee from a mere $100 to $2,350 in recent times and has made it difficult for people seeking to renounce to get access to their consular offices. There is actually a pending lawsuit against the US State Department by the Association of Accidental USfuo on this very issue. Then there is the issue of the exit tax that they impose on such renouncers.

Can USfuo compel allegiance, whatever it means, and thereby disqualify natural born Ghanafuo who seek to serve their birthright country by this strategy?

In this global village, where countries compete on the basis of their human talents, which rational or serious birthright country will allow other countries to force their natural born citizens to owe allegiance to them?

Which serious country will deny her people of the talents of its own natural born citizens because of the citizenship law of another country?

The British developed the allegiance doctrine to ensure they have control of their natural born subjects at all times and we seem to have imported it to help other countries to control our natural born citizens. Pay attention!

Once that subtlety is understood and once allegiance is properly framed as formulated in the Calvin case and further illuminated by Blackstone, the answer to the Assin North question is remarkably simple.

The MP is qualified to be an MP. Further, all these dual citizenship related article 94(2)(a) disqualifications are based on a misunderstanding of allegiance and its inapposite equation to citizenship.

Merely because it is easy to identify dual citizens, especially those who hold foreign passports, does not mean we should equate it to allegiance to a country other than Ghana.

People acquire and countries confer citizenships for many reasons, unrelated to allegiance. Turkey promotes its housing sector by conferring citizenship on anyone who buys a property that is worth $250k. We confer Ghanafuo citizenship like confetti on Diasporafuo, who we actively woo. A donation of $100K will get you a Dominican citizenship. Frequent Ghanafuo travelers acquire citizenship of other countries to facilitate their travels, etc.

Frankly, people who equate citizenship to allegiance are stuck in the 18th century, where the relationship between citizens and the state was likened to that between vassals and their lords. The rest of the world have longed moved past this feudal conception of allegiance and citizenship to a regime where citizenship is conceptualized in terms of political rights and democratic participation.

In any event, the statute (PNDCL 284) does not permit the cancellation of the MPs election and the repudiation of the voters’ wishes because allegiance is to be measured on the day of his election, regardless of what it was prior to the election.

To sum up, whether it is the common law or it is statutory law, there is no lawful basis to invalidate the Assin North election or to injunct the duly elected MP from discharging his constitutional functions.

As for his criminal prosecution, it is nothing but petty vindictiveness and an impermissible abuse of the prosecutorial process.

#SALL is the cardinal sin of the 8th Parliament.

Da Yie!