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Natural born Liberian

What does it take to be President of Liberia? From Liberia’s 1984 Constitution:

Article 52 No person shall be eligible to hold the office of President or Vice President, unless that person is:

a) a natural born Liberian citizen of not less than 35 years of age;

b) the owner of unencumbered real property valued at not less than twenty five thousand dollars; and

c) resident in the Republic ten years prior to his election, provided that the President and the Vice President shall not come from the same County.

And what constitutes a natural born citizen of Liberia?

Article 28 Any person, at least one of whose parents was a citizen of Liberia at the time of the person’s birth, shall be a citizen of Liberia; provided that any such person shall upon reaching maturity renounce any other citizenship acquired by virtue of one parent being a citizen of another country. No citizen of the Republic shall be deprived of citizenship or nationality except as provided by law; and no person shall be denied the right to change citizenship or nationality.

Oh, but you say, Article 28 doesn’t use the phrase “natural born citizen” but just describes a citizen at birth. No difference, according to one of the framers of the Liberian Constitution.

The question of interest in Liberia is about the definition of “prior,” whether the 10-year residency requirement means “immediately prior” or at any time. This is an issue because political instability in Liberia has forced many to live in exile.

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9 Responses to Natural born Liberian

  1. avatar
    Scientist May 27, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    In case anyone here is ever called upon to write a Constitution, please note, all terms used should be clearly defined in the document. Statutes generally start with a section defining terms. Constitutions should do the same.

    In fact, in my opinion, undefined phrases, such as “natural born ciitizen” or residency requirements not precisely spelled out are unconstitutionally vague and thus invalid and unenforceable. And the burden lies with those who wrote the document, not on future generations to devine intent.

  2. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 27, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    Scientist: In case anyone here is ever called upon to write a Constitution, please note, all terms used should be clearly defined in the document.

    In any finite dictionary with no circular definitions, there is always at least one undefined term, and one term that defines nothing.

  3. avatar
    WhyAskWhy? May 28, 2011 at 6:52 am #

    Of course, why do we care how Liberia defines eligibility for President?

    Kenya? Maybe – but not Liberia. 😛

    Different countries have different requirements. Not to put a damper on any other country’s ways, but I am interested in one country’s requirements – the U.S. And those requirements have been squarely met by the person who holds office today.

  4. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 28, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    WhyAskWhy?: Of course, why do we care how Liberia defines eligibility for President?

    You ask “why.” I ask “why not.”

    But there are reasons to be interested in Liberia, among them that Liberia and the United States share a common governmental heritage. Another is deriving a common understanding of “natural born citizen” free from the taint of anti-Obama partisanship.

  5. avatar
    Paul Pieniezny May 28, 2011 at 9:30 am #

    WhyAskWhy?: Of course, why do we care how Liberia defines eligibility for President?

    Perhaps because Liberia was founded by the United States (it was known as Pepper Coast before that, like Ivory Coast and Gold Coast), and for a long time had a constitution and laws that resembled the USA ones, to the point where it could be said that just like US law is based on English law around 1650, Liberian law was based on American law as extant in 1820.

    Interestingly, “provided that the President and the Vice President shall not come from the same County” has its “echo” in and was probably influenced by the interdiction for electors of any US state to vote for a President AND a Vice President who are both from that same state. But we know how Bush and Cheney solved that problem. Any Liberian county elects two members to the Liberian Senate, regardless of population, but the rotation period is nine, and not six years. (Tenure in the House is six, and not two years)

    Liberia seems to have abandoned jus soli, but does not use the incorrectly translated version of Vattel.

    Bad news for Jindal and Rubio.

  6. avatar
    Paul Pieniezny May 28, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: In any finite dictionary with no circular definitions, there is always at least one undefined term, and one term that defines nothing.

    And the funny part is that many linguists ignore this, but anyone who ever programmed, or tried to program in C language, knows this very well.

  7. avatar
    Eglenn harcsar May 29, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    Hi dr c,

    I think that you are stirring the pot to bring up issues that simmer here in the us regarding Liberia (as a good blogger must do.) But not to examine terms free from political tinge, but to assert that it’s always political, and politically tinged in a certain way.

    Liberia has a built in hot button race rage within our American community. Recolonization as a solution for the freemen–even if us principles and governing structures are established on the African continent — deny us citizenship and the embracing invitation for full social, economic and political participation on this continent. Talk about mis treating your red headed stepchild. Even Lincoln was an early fan, but the moral issue and force of asking freed blacks to fight for the union, and then asking them to leave was too much.

    The wiki has an ok run down on the history, but I take my sense of the current issue through conversation and imaginative empathy (at best a half step toward understanding the experience of an “americo-Liberian”). Links below are from the us state department and pbs

    http://m.state.gov/md6618.htm
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/globalconnections/liberia/essays/history/

  8. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 29, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    Eglenn harcsar: Liberia has a built in hot button race rage within our American community

    I was not aware of that. To me it was just the words “natural born citizen” uttered on a slow news day.

  9. avatar
    Eglenn harcsar May 29, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    In the very planned city where I now live our city father could not house the thousands of black workers he hired cut pine brush, fill mangroves, and build roads due to the segregation laws in place at the time. Instead he created workers housing a little farther north of his main boulevard and just west of dixie hwy. I drove past and through it just hours ago on the way to the home depot. It’s our section of town called, you guessed it, Liberia. As a newcomer, its origin was explained with either a wink of understanding, or a grimace that no understanding could ever be possible.