Dear Distinguished Members of the Electoral High Commission,
We are writing to you to express our gratitude at your tireless work in drafting the electoral law which on the whole is very well structured, with a clear focus on Libya's best interest at its core.
In this humble letter, we'd like to direct your attention to article 16, item 1. Whereby you have outlined that Libyan citizens who are dual nationality holders will not be eligible to nominate themselves as candidates for the congressional elections. Unless they first relinquish any other nationalities.
At this difficult transitional phase in Libya's history, we all want the best for Libya and we can understand the concerns that might be raised about citizens holding multiple nationalities and where their loyalties might truly lay.
However I put it to you dear distinguished members, that thousands of Libyans were forced to flee their homeland and start new lives over-seas by the brutal practices of the former Libyan government of Gaddafi and his cronies. Amongst these Libyans the flame of revolution and opposition to Gaddafi was kept alight, so that it might one day help spark the changes that all Libyans longed for. In the patriotic and honorable revolution of February 17th, 2011. This spark grew to a burning flame that played a critical role in ousting the Gaddafi regime. Dual nationality Libyans residing abroad helped take the news of Gaddafi's crimes to a global audience, pressuring international media outlets and foreign politicians to take action. Dual nationality Libyans also served the revolution by providing medical, material and financial assistance to Libyans in Libya and refugees in neighboring countries. Many quit their jobs and gave up their livelihoods and life savings to play their part in the revolution. Of course, we can never forget the dual nationality Libyans that made the ultimate sacrifice by fighting and giving up their lives for the sake of a free Libya.
I put it to you dear distinguished members of the Electoral Commission, that if these brave dual nationality Libyans did not have their loyalties to Libya questioned in the trying times of the revolution, why should their loyalties to Libya be questioned now in the congressional elections? Those that sacrificed and tirelessly strived for a free Libya did so for a Libya that would respect the rights of all its citizens without discrimination. They did so to afford the every Libyan citizen the right to vote and run in elections (excluding those that committed crimes against the Libyan people). Libyans of dual nationality should not be equated with ex-regime loyalist or criminals that stole from, tortured, imprisoned or killed the Libyan people. They played their role in the Libyan Feb17th revolution and should be allowed to enjoy the rewards of these efforts.
More practically speaking, it is our strong recommendation that Article 16, item 1 should be amended to remove the requirement for dual nationalities citizens to relinquish their dual nationality before registering themselves as an electoral candidate. As long as Libyan has a valid Libyan citizenship and has not committed any crimes, then he or she should be eligible to both vote AND run for elections. The two key tenets of a true democratic process.
This would place Libya in good company. Such prominent democracies as the USA and the UK (other examples?) freely allow dual nationality citizens to run for political office. Such prominent USA political figures as president Barak Obama, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former USA president Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960s US vice-president Spiro Agnew all held dual nationality to some degree or another while being involved in USA politics. Arnold Schwarzenegger actually retained his Austrian citizenship while acting as elected governor of California.
Libyan dual citizens proved their loyalty to Libya during their long years of exile and more recently during the blessed Feb17th revolution. They provide Libya with a powerful asset of education and experience that the country desperately needs to achieve the goals set out by the Feb17th revolution. The solution that serves Libya best is enabling these patriotic Libyan citizens to serve their country without any discrimination or limitation.
We humbly thank you for your consideration of our suggestion and hope you take it in the spirit of patriotic and constructive efforts to achieve the best for our beloved Libya.
Long live a free Libya.
The Libyan Dual Nationality Community