Whenever a new president takes power, they make a raft of promises premised solely on sweet talk. This is the same that Liberia’s newly sworn-in president George Weah has done. He has promised to remove “racist” laws on citizenship in the Constitution that restrict citizenship to black people.
Speaking in his first State of the Nation address since being elected as president, President Weah promised to make sweeping moves with the country’s Constitution especially with issues surrounding citizenship laws. He described the clause that restricts citizenship to black people as "unnecessary, racist and inappropriate”.
Liberia is a nation that was founded as an alternative home for the freed slaves who wanted to go back to their homes. As such, black people are defined as "persons who are Negroes or of Negro descent". In essence, the clause has been a great disadvantage to people who are non-blacks.
In Liberia, about 4 000 Lebanese people who have lived in the country for generations are barred from citizenship, and by extension from land ownership. This is what Weah has described as "unnecessary, racist and inappropriate”.
Still on citizenship, there is a ban on dual citizenship in Liberia. Mr. George Weah has also pledged to remove the ban on dual citizenship. "It contradicts the very definition of Liberia, which is derived from the Latin word 'liber', meaning 'liberty'," he said. Weah's wife, Clar, has faced intense criticism for her Jamaican roots in Liberia. She was denied a passport on the grounds she was not a Liberian citizen, and the president called for restrictions on dual citizenship to also be lifted.
He also promised to remove a ban on the foreign ownership of property but via a referendum. The clause in the Constitution does not settle well with Weah. "No foreign investor... will be willing to make significant direct investments in our country if they cannot own property," he noted.
Among other promises, he also vowed to take a 25% pay cut in view of his country’s economy and the majority of the people who wallow in a quagmire of abject poverty. He urged lawmakers to follow his path, and also promised on delivering a nation-wide road building program to stimulate trade and jobs, and also opined that schools and universities are some of the major priorities of his government.