KUWAIT: The National Assembly yesterday overwhelmingly passed a law in the second and final reading to allow the government to naturalize up to 4,000 foreigners in 2016. Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah said the government accepts the law and vowed to try to implement it in the remaining seven months of the year. The Assembly has been passing this law for over a decade, but the government did not implement it in the past few years.
Originally, the law was introduced to help resolve the decades-old problem of over 100,000 stateless people or bedoons by naturalizing whom the government believes deserve to be granted citizenship. But the government and many MPs refused this time to restrict naturalization to bedoons and left it open for all foreigners. Forty-four MPs including government ministers voted in favor of the law, while six lawmakers voted against it.
Before the vote, the Assembly rejected a proposal by MP Saleh Ashour to restrict the 4,000 to bedoons. MP Saadoun Hammad said bedoons who have corrected their status should be considered among the 4,000 hopefuls for nationality. Ashour said that the government admits that 32,000 bedoons qualify for consideration for citizenship, so many of the 4,000 hopefuls should be from them. Bedoons claim the right to Kuwaiti citizenship, while the government says a majority of them are citizens of other countries and they or their forefathers destroyed their identification documents to get Kuwaiti nationality.
In the session shortened because HH the Amir opened a new building for the offices of MPs, the Assembly voted to strip controversial MP Abdulhameed Dashti of his parliamentary immunity for the public prosecution to interrogate him on a new state security offence. The Assembly has already lifted Dashti’s immunity several times to make him face trial on state security cases, mainly for attacking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
Dashti has been living outside Kuwait for the past several months under the pretext of receiving medical treatment, which the Assembly has accepted and refrained from taking action against him, including revoking his membership. Dashti has been writing strong and controversial comments on his Twitter account, but Ashour said that he has informed the prosecution that his account has been hacked. The public prosecution has already issued a number of arrest warrants against Dashti and he will most likely be arrested whenever he returns to the country. The Assembly is scheduled to debate today the key public tenders law, which has been extensively amended.
By B Izzak