Citizenship Queries for a Kenyan-Born Woman Poised to Become Senator of South Australia
Lucy Gichuhi, a lawyer who migrated from Kenya to Australia in 1999 and acquired Australian citizenship in 2001, is in line to become the next senator for South Australia.
Lucy’s citizenship is however being questioned by Australian constitutional law experts who say she is a dual citizen and is therefore ineligible so serve as Senator. Lucy however says she lost her Kenyan citizenship the moment she became a naturalized Australian citizen, and never at any point had dual citizenship.
The Kenyan High Commission in Australia has confirmed that Lucy is no longer a citizen of Kenya. The High Commissioner, Isaiah Kabira, says Lucy lost her Kenyan citizenship the moment she acquired Australian citizenship and never sought to re-gain it even after the new constitution allowed for dual citizenship.
“Before we promulgated our new constitution in 2010, anyone who applied for citizenship in another country automatically lost their Kenyan citizenship…As far as we're concerned in our records, Lucy Gichuhi has never applied for citizenship therefore she does not possess any Kenyan citizenship," said the high Commissioner in an interview with ABC radio.
The Australian Constitution states that "anyone under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power" can be disqualified from taking the office of Senator or House of Representative unless they have taken ‘all reasonable steps’ to renounce their other citizenship. Quoting this section of the constitution, law experts are seeking information on whether Lucy explicitly renounced her Kenyan citizenship (other than having lost it automatically), and whether she at any time traveled with a Kenyan passport after becoming an Australian citizen.
"If she continued to hold onto her passport and continued to travel under the auspices or protection of the Kenyan government using that passport, that might be an indicator of continuing entitlements under Section 44(i), which could be problem," Professor Anne Twomey from the University of Sydney told ABC Radio.
The South Australia Senate seat fell vacant after then-Senator Bob Day’s election was invalidated by the High Court for a constitutional violation related to his businesses. As a second-place finisher in the July election under the Family First Party, Lucy Gichuhi will take the seat if she clears the constitutional hurdle and the court-ordered vote recount of the last election holds (READ: Kenyan-Born Woman Poised to Become Senator of South Australia).