Revoke law against dual citizens and civil servants

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The revocation of the law which disqualifies dual citizens and public servants from becoming parliamentarians should be marked as the highest priority of constitutional reform.
Ralph Bowen, attorney-at-law and member of the country’s constitutional reform body, made the call during Sunday’s Big Issues programme on OBSERVER Radio, which focused on the country’s growth 36 years after political independence.
He said these “artificial prohibitions on who could serve” in the Lower and Upper House are “not relevant to a modern Antigua” as he insisted that considerations should be made to eliminate that part of Section 30 and 39 of the 1981 Constitution order.
According to that statute: “no person shall be qualified to be appointed as a Senator or member of the House who is, by virtue of his own act, under any acknowledgement or allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power, or state.”
Bowen explained that after being born in Antigua and Barbuda holders of U.S. citizenship, for example, are forced to denounce “with all of the implications.”
He, however, asked: “Why should I be prevented from doing that, when you can have a Jamaican, Chinese, or an American citizen without requiring and denunciation?”
The attorney at law also pointed to statute that prohibits civil servants, “acting in any public office or in the office of judge of the Supreme Court or Ombudsman, or is a member of the Constituencies Boundaries Commission, the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, the Public Service Commission or the Police Service Commission,” from being appointed or elected.
Emphasising that it is unfair for the men and women who are serving the nation in those posts, “but … cannot become policy makers unless they give up their tenure,” the member of the country’s constitutional reform body pointed out that it would only be for a “chance that they may win an election or for the chance that they may be appointed and disappointed after giving up so much.”
According to him, this legislation is restricting the pool of eligible candidates that run for political office. He recommended that, “We need to spread the net as wide as possible to attract as many persons as possible to parliamentary process. Let the people decide, let us not create these types of constructs who can and cannot serve.”

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