Kuwait reinstates citizenship for opposition figures after government 'truce'

Kuwait reinstates citizenship for opposition figures after government 'truce'
Seven members of Kuwait's opposition who were stripped of their citizenship since 1991, were reinstated as citizens of the Gulf state on Monday, after a government decree.
2 min read
23 May, 2017
Opposition MP Abdullah al-Barghash had his citizenship reinstated [Getty]

Former Kuwaiti MP Abdullah al-Barghash was reinstated as a citizen of the Gulf state on Tuesday, after authorities stripped him of it for participating in 'anti-government political activities' three years ago.

Six others were also listed in a descree issued by the 'Nationality withdrawal commission', set up by Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah and National Assembly Speaker Marzouq al-Ghanim.  

The decision came as a result of a truce signed by both the opposition and Kuwait's prime minister immediately after it had won a significant amount of seats in the 2016 National Assembly elections.

The truce outlined a series of conditions, including  the release of political prisoners, lifting of security restrictions on civilian opposition members and a general political amnesty by the Amir.

Sources close to Kuwait's opposition said the return of nationalities will be issued in part, to ensure control of the opposition until the beginning of the next legislative term, as the government tries to pass several financial laws.

"There are certain government bargains with a group of independents not belonging to the opposition to return the nationality of people from their tribes or sects, in exchange for standing with the government," the anonymous sources told The New Arab.

"The government's use of citizenships as a tool to pressure parliamentarians underscores the fragility of its political position and its weakness, as it hampers the people as a card to keep itself from falling," MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei told The New Arab.

According to Kuwaiti law, the Minister of the Interior can withdraw nationality from any citizen for any reason without providing a justification, and the citizen affected does not have the right to resort to the judiciary.

The opposition tried to pass a law to allow the Administrative Court to hear cases of withdrawn nationalities, but was rejected after the government voted against it.

A new list of reinstated nationalities is also expected to include Islamic preacher Nabil al-Awadhi, media personality,  Saad al-Ajmi and the head of al-Youm newspaper, Ahmed al-Jabr, in addition to a number of other opposition figures.