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Kuwait to restore citizenship of opposition figures, MPs say

Opposition leaders and their relatives had lost their citizenship after street protests

Gulf News

Kuwait City: Kuwait will restore the citizenship of opposition figures and dozens of their relatives nearly three years after revoking it in a crackdown on dissent, lawmakers said on Monday.

“Our thanks to the emir for his generous gesture of restoring the revoked citizenships,” Islamist opposition MP Mohammad Al Dallal tweeted after a meeting with Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah.

Several of the 14 MPs who attended the meeting confirmed that the Gulf state’s ruler had ordered the citizenships to be restored.

The Kuwaiti government in mid-2014 stripped at least four opposition figures and dozens of their family members of their nationality as part of a crackdown on dissent.

The decision, following large street protests demanding political reforms, was slammed by rights groups.

Those affected included Islamist former opposition MP Abdullah Al Barghash and more than 50 members of his extended family.

They also included former spokesman of the opposition Popular Action Movement Saad Al Ajmi, who was later deported to Saudi Arabia.

The owner of the opposition-linked Alam Al Youm newspaper Ahmad Jabr Al Shemmari and Islamist preacher Nabeel Al Awadhi also lost their nationality.

Several of those affected sued the government.

The move to restore their status comes after a November snap election in which opposition groups participated after a four-year boycott, winning almost half of the 50 seats.

Opposition groups and candidates made restoring citizenship rights a key election pledge.

Kuwait has a native population of 1.35 million, many of whom became citizens through naturalisation.

The emirate also has 3.1 million foreign residents.

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