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Court restores citizenship of ex-lawmaker Barghash

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KUWAIT: In a landmark decision, the administrative court yesterday annulled a government decision to revoke the citizenship of former Islamist lawmaker Abdullah Al-Barghash and many of his family members. The verdict was issued following months of deliberations in the court, which demanded that the government should explain the reasons for withdrawing Barghash’s citizenship, but the government ignored the order under the pretext that nationality is a sovereign issue that rests with the government. As soon as the judge pronounced the ruling, Barghash broke down in tears and knelt down in prayers to thank God for the verdict.

He was hugged and kissed by a number of relatives and supporters present in the court. Later, Barghash was inundated with warm congratulations by opposition figures and activists, who hailed the verdict. The government revoked the citizenship of Barghash, two of his brothers and his sister and members of their families in July last year on the grounds of an article in the nationality law on granting citizenship on the basis of false or fake information.

The Cabinet also revoked the citizenship of the owner of pro-opposition Alam Al-Youm newspaper and Al-Youm television channel Ahmad Jabr Al-Shemmari and his family on the grounds he threatened national security.

The verdict is significant also because it came after another bench in the same court decided in September to reject a similar case filed by Shemmari, saying that it did not have jurisdiction to rule on sovereign issues. That verdict was upheld in March by the court of appeals but Shemmari’s lawyer, who is also defending Barghash, Al- Humaidi Al-Subaie, challenged the verdict at the court of cassation, the country’s highest court whose decisions are final.

The government had also revoked the citizenship of several other opposition members including the former spokesman of the Popular Action Movement Saad Al-Ajmi, who was last month deported to Saudi Arabia on a one-way Saudi travel document. Ajmi is also challenging his case in the administrative court. Former liberal opposition MP Saleh Al-Mulla said he hoped that the court verdict will stop the government from politicizing the nationality law.

The opposition groups have insisted that the government decisions to revoke citizenships were politically motivated to crack down on dissent amid a growing opposition movement then. “The restoration of Barghash’s citizenship is a condemnation of the government,” said former MP Abdulkareem Al-Kandari. There has however been no comment from current members of parliament. In another development, head of the National Assembly’s budgets committee MP Adnan Abdulsamad said yesterday that the panel discussed the projected state revenues for the 2015/2016 fiscal year with Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh. He said that revenues are estimated at KD 12.05 billion, down a massive 66 percent compared to last year’s revenues.

Oil income accounts for 88 percent of total revenues, compared to 94 percent last year. He said that oil income is calculated on the basis of $45 a barrel as the price of Kuwaiti oil with a daily production of 2.7 million barrels per day. The dinar-dollar exchange rate is 290 fils a dollar, while the market rate now is 302 fils a dollar. Abdulsamad said that Kuwaiti revenues are expected to be higher than projections because of the improvement in oil prices and a higher exchange rate of the dollar against the dinar.

This will consequently cut the projected deficit, but the shortfall will persist as long as the price of Kuwaiti oil is under $77 a barrel, he said. Abdulsamad pointed out that non-oil revenues are projected at KD 1.26 billion, up 15 percent on last year.


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