Director of Diaspora Affairs
January 17, 2018 By Alusine Sesay &Elizabeth Kaine
Director of Diaspora Affairs in the Office of the President has told Concord Times that all is not lost for his constituents who are most affected by the decision of political parties to deny people holding dual citizenship party symbol to contest as Members of Parliament in the forthcoming March 7 elections.
It could be recalled that the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) party denied party symbols to both incumbent parliamentarians and new comers who hold dual citizenship. The party cited section 76(1) of the 1991 Constitution as the basis for the decision.
Speaking to Concord Times at his Wesley Street Office in Freetown, Dr. Kallay Musa Conteh noted that: “I am the director for the Diaspora in Sierra Leone, so I think all is not lost for them. They can contribute in other ways outside cabinet or parliament.”
Dr. Conteh recognised the contributions of Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora to the development of the country, but cautioned them that the decision to deny them symbol to contest the March 7th elections should not be blamed on political parties as it is a provision in the 1991 Constitution.
“The Constitution supersedes every other law, so if that is applied, it stands. We have no right to change what the constitution says. It has been the law which we cannot change and it has been implemented to the letter,” he said.
He noted that one does not need to be a politician to help in the development of the country, and that there are several opportunities in the private sector where they could invest and help move the country forward.
The head of Diaspora office noted that when it comes to constitutional matters his office is silent because their duty is to galvanise support and attract talents from the diaspora to fill gaps in public institutions in Sierra Leone, adding that they also encourage people from the diaspora to invest in the private sector.
He reiterated that Section 76(1) of the 1991 Constitution would not in any way affect his constituents, except for those who are interested in politics, noting that his office is purely apolitical.
“I don’t think that this will affect people except those that came purposely for politics.It is only when they have made up their minds that their decision is political and must either be in parliament or be cabinet ministers. This is a country that has laws to be followed, so for me, they should not be discouraged because they have choice to renounce their dual citizenship,” he said.
“I know how they feel and I sympathise with them because some have spent their money and they have hope of taking those constituencies, but unfortunately this is the case. It is very clear so they should accept the constitution and look at that relevant section,” he noted.