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Bill allowing dual citizens to hold top public positions gazetted

Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2021″ has gone through its first gazette

• The Bill seeks to lift restrictions on the ability of dual citizens to hold some top positions

• The Private Member’s Bill championing this amendment is sponsored by Akim Swedru MP

A constitutional amendment aimed at lifting restrictions on dual citizens from holding certain public positions has gone through its first gazette.

The Bill is expected to go through a second gazette and at least after 10 days, the first reading of the Bill will be done in Parliament.

The Bill named: “Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2021” is one of five others that have been gazetted and sent to the Business Committee of the House, according to documents available to GhanaWeb.

The preamble of the bill captures its main objective as follows: “The object of the Bill is to amend the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana to remove restrictions imposed on dual citizens and persons who owe allegiance to a country other than Ghana from holding the public offices specified in clause (2) of Article 8 and paragraph (a) of clause (2) of Article 94 and provide for related matters.”

According to Professor Kwaku Azar, who is one of the strong advocates for the Bill, the two pieces of legislation referred to above are not entrenched provisions thus the path to amendment could be relatively easier.

“Both Articles 94(2)(a) and 8(2) are not entrenched and can be amended with at least two thirds (183) votes of all the members of Parliament.

“Amending the impugned statutes follows a slightly different path and only requires a simple majority (138) of the votes in Parliament,” he explained in a Facebook post earlier this week.

The bill is being championed by Kennedy Nyarko Osei, Member of Parliament for Akim Swedru in the Eastern Region.

Professor Azar also expressed his gratitude to Speaker Alban Bagbin, Second Deputy Speaker, Andrew Amoako Asiamah and several MPs, from both sides of the political divide, who opened their doors to his group and granted them a fair hearing.

He was very encouraged by the bipartisan commitment to the values underlying the proposed bill.

Outside of Parliament, he also thanked “the chairman and other members of the Council of State, who opened their doors to us and granted us a fair hearing.”

This week, a dual citizenship-related petition cost an MP his seat as a High Court ordered a rerun of elections in Assin North constituency after ruling that the sitting MP should desist from holding himself as a legal representative of the people.

James Gyakye Quayson won the 2020 Parliamentary election on the ticket of the main opposition National Democratic Congress but shortly after his victory, he was dragged to court by a resident of the constituency who submitted that the MP held dual citizenship – Ghana and Canadian – at the time he filed his papers to contest.

The court ruled that he had breached electoral regulations and ordered that new elections be held during which time he should cease holding himself out as a Member of Parliament.

The Cape Coast High Court presided over by Justice Kwasi Boakye, on Wednesday, July 28, 2021; upheld the argument of a petitioner who contended that James Quayson was not qualified to contest the 2020 elections.

The basis for the ruling was that at the point of filing to contest the elections, the court claims James Quayson had not successfully renounced his Canadian citizenship.

Find below the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2021

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