Kuwait to restore citizenship of opposition figures: MPs

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 Monday.

“Our thanks to the emir for his generous gesture of restoring the revoked citizenships,” hard-liner opposition MP Mohammad Al-Dallal tweeted after a meeting with Emir Sheikh 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.

Those affected included radical 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 radical preacher Nabil 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 naturalization. The emirate also has 3.1 million foreign residents.