Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Allegiance and Citizenship

It can be argued that there are certain positions within the administration of any independent nation-state which should be held by people having undivided allegiance to the nation-state involved. These positions are of critical importance to the conduct of the nation's interaction with the international community, and symbolize the emotional aspect of being an independent state - that is, national identity.

The list includes, but is not limited to:
. Legislators - MPs and Senators (especially Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition)
. Governor General
. Chief of the Defence Force
. Attorney General
. Solicitor-General
. President, Court of Appeal
. Chief Justice
. Members of the foreign service serving overseas.

People holding those positions should have allegiance to the host country only. They should possess exclusive citizenship during their tenure.

It matters not if they enjoyed multiple citizenships prior to consideration for the positions listed. However, they should renounce all other citizenships before they are elected or appointed to those special positions. Furthermore, your citizenship status at birth or as an adult should not matter, provided that you are exclusively undivided, undiluted in your allegiance to the country that you wish to serve.

In addition to renouncing any other citizenship before acceding to any of the positions listed, the Oath of Office should explicitly include (i) unequivocal voluntary renunciation of all other citizenships and (ii) acknowledgement of the exclusivity of the citizenship of the host country.

Jamaica today cannot afford to differentiate between Jamaicans with dual or even multiple citizenships. What is of paramount importance is the 100 per cent allegiance to Jamaica, a requirement when individuals occupy those critical positions. The constitution needs to be amended to reflect the current socio-economic political realities in clear, unambiguous terms.

Published in the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday, April 23, 2008.

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