Bill seeks to allow dual citizenship

Bill seeks to allow dual citizenship

MASERU – A Bill to amend Lesotho’s constitution to allow for dual citizenship will soon be debated in Parliament, thepost can reveal. Home Affairs Minister Tsukutlane Au is understood to have sent the Bill to parliament earlier this month. The Bill seeks to repeal section 41 of the Constitution which provides that any person attaining 21 years and has citizenship of another country other than Lesotho’s loses the Lesotho citizenship.

Under this provision, a Mosotho child who leaves with his parents to another country and while there is registered as a citizen of that country, will lose his Lesotho citizenship when he turns 21 if he does not declare allegiance to the King and renounce the citizenship of that other country. Under the proposed law, the section provides that a citizen of Lesotho may hold citizenship of any other country in addition to the citizenship of Lesotho.

The Bill says “a person who is a citizen of any country who acquires a citizenship of Lesotho by naturalisation or registration is only eligible for social benefits after ten years of being naturalised or registered as a citizen of Lesotho”. Such person shall not hold a position which will be specified by an Act of Parliament governing citizenship matters. For Basotho who lost their Lesotho citizenship when they attained citizenships of other countries under the current constitutional provisions, their Lesotho citizenships shall be restored “immediately on the coming into operation of this amendment”.

“His rights and privileges shall continue to prevail as if he never lost Lesotho citizenship,” the Bill reads. The Bill also seeks to amend the constitution to provide for marriage to a Lesotho citizen and dual citizenship, and to also provide for the restoration of Lesotho citizenship. In its statement of objects and reasons, the Bill says it seeks to lift the discriminatory provisions which were favouring foreign women married to Lesotho citizens over foreign men who marry Basotho women.

It seeks to provide similar requirements for acquisition of Lesotho citizenship. The Bill repeals section 40 of the constitution which says foreign women married to Basotho men are entitled to register as Lesotho citizens once they declare their allegiance to the King. Foreign men who marry Basotho women do not have the same privilege under the constitution. Instead, the proposed section will read: “A person who marries a citizen of Lesotho shall, upon making application and taking oath of allegiance, be registered as a Lesotho citizen”.

Staff Reporter

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