Kofi Boateng Writes
‘This Bill will help deal effectively with all matters affecting overseas Ghanaians.’ President Akufo-Addo said at the Ghana Diaspora Celebration and Homecoming Summit at the Accra International Conference Centre, Wednesday.
He was referring to the Diaspora Engagement Policy Bill, which is yet to be laid before Parliament. The President said the Bill is being worked on by the Office of Diasporan Affairs.
The Bill will allow persons with dual citizenship to hold public office, the President said.
Ghana’s Constitution for instance, Article 94 (2A) states that “a person shall not be qualified to be a member of Parliament if he – (a) owes allegiance to a country other than Ghana”.
This and several other provisions in the Constitution places restrictions on dual citizens from political participation in Ghana, especially, in public elections.
Among restrictions outlined in the Constitution, Ghanaians with dual citizenship cannot be Members of Parliament, Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court, Ambassador/High Commissioner among others.
Other offices dual citizens cannot hold include:
Secretary to the Cabinet, Chief of Defense Staff, Inspector-General of Police, Commissioner of Customs, Excise and Preventive Service, and Commissioner, Value Added Tax Service. Also the post of Director of Immigration Service, Director-General Prisons Service, Chief Fire Officer, Chief Director of a Ministry and Rank of Colonel in the Army or equivalent in other security services cannot be held by a plural citizen.
Also any other public office that the Minister may prescribe by Legislative Instrument.
The Supreme Court of Ghana has previously reasoned that people with dual nationality cannot hold public offices because of the issue of conflict of interest, national security, and state allegiance to Ghana and confidentiality.
However, the President said dual citizens should not be limited in their capacities to serve. As such, the Bill will nullify all the above restrictions.
A member of the Diaspora has indicated that the absence of such a law means they are being hindered from enjoying their rights as Ghanaian citizens.
‘Creating a category of Ghanaian citizens who are valued for their economic potential but whose potential to contribute to the political space is devalued and questioned is antithetical to the principle of equal citizenship’, he said.
The President added that the Bill will ensure that Ghana emulate countries who have had a truthful collaboration with their Diasporan brethren to cause national development and prosperity.
Ghanaians in the Diaspora have been calling for some structural changes in the country, so that they can take part in the development agenda of this country.
In August, 2012 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ghanaian Diaspora had a comprehensive 3 day meeting. It was termed the ‘COLLOQUIUM OF THE DIASPORA ENGAGEMENT PROJECT’ and focused on “Linking the Ghanaian Diaspora to the Development of Ghana”
But, the recommendations received no legislative backing.
Can the President’s Diaspora Engagement Policy Bill arrest these concerns?
Kofi Boateng (Ghana Institute of Journalism )