Split Identity

Last week Libya’s National Transitional Council handed over power to the newly formed, democratically elected General National Congress. I wrote a post previously about the head of the Congress, Mohammed Magariaf.

Because most of the opposition were operating abroad, the majority have dual citizenships. This could explain why the first law passed by the GNC bars dual nationality holders from government participation. 

This decision has stirred controversy, especially among dual nationals. Proponents of the law say that members of government should be loyal only to Libya, and that holding a second nationality will create a conflict of interest. Many other countries, they argue, have similar laws.

But opponents claim that this law will isolate those with dual citizenship. Many who have a second citizenship received their education abroad and are qualified and capable to help lead the country forward. They claim that now is the time to be inclusive.

The issue runs deep for many people. To them, the nation they were born and raised in is like a second home. And for those who have never been to Libya, it’s the only home they know.

I believe that it’s an issue all dual citizens will have to face eventually, whether they plan to run for government or not. For many, it’s not practical to move back and forth between two countries, especially larger families. Which country would you rather serve, which country needs your help more? No matter how much you try to assimilate, isn’t there a part of you that still feels like an outsider?

But conversely, there is the issue of good education, healthcare, a stable life for you and your family. These things are readily available abroad, but they will take time in coming to Libya.

The way I see it, having a second citizenship is a personal choice. But within the government, it’s a different situation. You represent not just yourself but your constituents, and it ceases to become something personal. You owe your loyalty to your second country, or else you shouldn’t be holding it’s citizenship. I believe that Libya will eventually go the way of other nations on this issue, and tackling it now will bring the issue to a close sooner.


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