The Liberian Senate is expected to rule today or tomorrow on the nominations of some of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s cabinet choices. The Senate is likely to reject some of the nominees, especially those who have admitted they either hold US citizenship or have served in the US armed forces. Varney Sherman is a lawyer and a presidential candidate in Liberia’s recent elections. He told Voice of America reporter James Butty the Liberian Senate should welcome back Liberians who were forced to flee their country because of political persecution and wars.
“My personal view is that this really should not be an issue, especially for those people who were born as Liberians." He said they acquired citizenship in another country because they were forced to flee Liberia, and that's not sufficient reason to deny them the opportunity to serve Liberia as Senators now that they've returned.
Sherman says the Liberian constitution specifies that only a Liberian citizen is eligible to become a president, vice president, or member of the House of Representatives or the Senate. But he says the constitution does not address cabinet positions.
“I don’t see anything in the constitution that says that in order to be an appointed official – a minister or deputy minister or assistant minister – you must be a Liberian citizen. And I don’t see anything in the statutes that says in order to hold any of these appointed positions you must be a Liberian citizen." He says if they are natural born Liberian citizens, that's all the more in their favor in seeking these positions.
During the Liberian presidential campaign, Sherman got huge support from Liberians in the Diaspora for his pledge to welcome back Liberians who were forced to flee their country.
“In my mind, we need to be able to attract Liberians home, to give them some incentives to go back home. And [for] those who are deciding at this stage to go back ... one thing we should not do is to discourage them. We need to encourage them. When we started our campaign, we said we wanted a policy that says ‘Once a Liberian Always a Liberian'."
He says the intent of that slogan was to attract Liberians to return home and to seek out and hold appointed positions in public service as well.