As the question of dual citizenship remains unresolved at the national legislature; a Liberian with American citizenship is now senator – elect of Nimba County.
How did he pass NEC scrutiny is a question. While some opposition parties still have their qualms or complaints about alleged electoral fraud, citizens and foreign observers are expressing different opinions about the opposition claims. Unusual controversy has begun between NEC and some defeated senatorial candidates in Nimba, who contend that the winner of the Senate seat is a real American citizen, which is seen as a violation of the Liberian law.
As Samuka V. Konneh Of Our Staff Reports, the reported undetected participation of an American in the Liberian elections as contestant for elective post is seen as evidence of NEC detective weakness. “From and after the effective date of this title, a person who is a citizen of Liberia whether by birth or naturalization shall lose his citizenship by (a) ‘obtaining naturalization in a foreign state upon his own application, upon the application of a duly authorized agent………’ (d) ‘Voting in a political election in a foreign state or voting in an election or plebiscite to determine the sovereignty of a foreign state over foreign territory…” Chapter 22 – Loss of Citizenship: – Aliens & Nationality Law of Liberia.
By now, Liberians and the international community have known winners of Tuesday, October 11, 2011 general and presidential elections; with the Unity Party and the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) officially announced yesterday by the National Elections Commission (NEC) to be the ones going for runoff since neither of them could get the constitutional fifty percent plus one vote to qualify as the sole winner of the first round.
While rigmaroles and grumbles continue from some opposition, especially the CDC that it would not participate in the round two of the elections unless fundamental changes took place at NEC, which it said must include the removal and replacement of Chairman James N. Fromayan and other Commissioners. Other conditions which the party believes were responsible for the alleged electoral corruptionsare included in its conditional participation in the runoff. Besides this suspicion it seems the dark cloud of opposition mistrust still hangs over the Commission, with evidence suggesting that the winner of the junior senatorial seat in Nimba County was not eligible to have contested in the elections and defeated contestant is seeking cancelation of results.
The Liberian laws have clearly set the requirement for becoming eligible for elective posts: ‘that only Liberians aged 18 and above, sane and unconvicted of any crimes, can vote and be voted.’
But documents leaked to the Public Agenda newspaper and believed to be top secret, indicate that the winner of the junior senatorial seat in Nimba County, Mr. Thomas S. Grupee of Sen. Prince Y. Johnson’s National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP), is an American citizen, whose eligibility and chances to have passed NEC scrutiny and participate in the just ended 2011 legislative race is becoming a matter of confusion and may have the propensity to give additional weight to oppositions’ claim of electoral corruption, if immediate decisions are not taken by NEC.
Documents available suggest that Senator-elect Grupee has voted eight times in the City of Boston, State of Massachusett beginning 2000 to 2010. A source document from the United States, which indicates Mr. Grupee bearing Voter Identification number 06GS0653000, and signed by US Notary Public Regina Oshaughnessy in Upper Darby Twp., Delaware County in the Common Wealth of Pennsylvania, outlines that the Nimba Junior senator-elect had voted in state elections on November 7, 2000; November 2, 2004; November 7, 2006; November 4, 2008 and November 2, 2010. He also voted in State Primary on January 19, 2010 and Special State on November 02, 2010 – all in Boston, USA.
Chapter 22 of the Aliens and Nationality Law of Liberia states that “From and after the effective date of this title, a person who is a citizen of Liberia whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his citizenship by (a) ‘obtaining naturalization in a foreign state upon his own application, upon the application of a duly authorized agent………’ (d) ‘Voting in a political election in a foreign state or voting in an election or plebiscite to determine the sovereignty of a foreign state over foreign territory…”
It is not clear how much was known about Mr. Grupee’s American nationality before he was certified by NEC.
However, a copied document from the Jappah, Swen, Gray, Bernard & Associates Legal Services for Women &Children, Inc. (JSGBINC.), representing the legal interest of the second place winner in the Nimba County senatorial race, former Superintendent Edith Gongloe-Weh, says the National Elections Commission has been official notified on October 18, 2011 about Mr. Grupee’s dual citizenship and possible ineligibility to contest the senatorial seat.
“This communication is to file a protest against Thomas S. Grupee, for contesting the Nimba County Senatorial seat…. as a citizen of the United States of America. Thomas Grupee, in violation of Article 30 of the Liberian Constitution, which requires only citizens to contest elections in Liberia, is a citizen of the USA. Evidence of his citizenship, by virtue of his voting record in the City of Boston, State of Massachusetts, is hereto attached to form cogent part of this protest,” the law firm’s communication to NEC indicated.
Up to now, nothing much has been heard from the Commission as Mr. Grupee has been announced winner of the 2011 senatorial seat in Nimba. The communication also argues that Mr. Gurpee has not been domiciled in Nimba County for more than a year as provided by Article 30 (b) of the Liberian Constitution.
Three days before Mrs. Gongloe-Weh sent her protest through a legal representation to NEC on October 18, 2011, a formal protest, copy also available, was written on October 15, 2011 to NEC Elections Magistrate of Upper Nimba County, Princeton Monmia, in Sanniequillie against the elections result. But Mrs. Gongloe-Weh claimed in her letter to NEC that her protest was dismissed by Magistrate Monmia as ‘untenable in law,’ even without a hearing.
Besides being a US citizen and resident, Mr. Grupee is said to own and operate the I& P Tax Services on Columbus Rd, Massachusetts and has not denounced his citizenship to the US prior to his participation in the election for the Senate, a letter to NEC Magistrate in Nimba said.
In that same letter, Mrs. Gongloe-Weh expressed hope of a “speedy action to discourage the willful violation of our constitution by individuals who choose to do so. The people of Nimba deserve to be represented by citizens who respect the organic laws of the Republic of Liberia, especially at the level of the Senate, where laws are made.”
Several opposition politicians have been complaining that their complaints to NEC have been over looked and considered negligible by NEC; and now that Mrs. Gongloe-Weh is complaining of same situation, the stakes now seem to be increasing on the Commission.
Meanwhile and amid these protests, unconfirmed information say incumbent President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is in secret negotiation with Mrs. Gongloe-Weh by interceding on behalf of Mr. Grupee, who is contestant on PYJ’s NUDP that is now finalizing and sealing second round support deal with the UP.