KUWAIT: A number of lawmakers pressed yesterday for the formation of a committee to launch an investigation into claims that thousands of Kuwaitis obtained their citizenship through illegal means. MP Omar Al-Tabtabaei went a step further by threatening to hold the prime minister to account over the highly sensitive issue. Tabtabaei strongly criticized the government for paying no attention to a proposal filed last week in the Assembly to form this committee, as only eight members voted for the proposal. He said that there are claims that as many as 80,000 people had obtained citizenship through forgery and did not qualify for it.

MP Rakan Al-Nasef said he strongly backs the call to form a committee to probe those who "penetrated" into the Kuwaiti society through illegal means. Nasef said that he was not present during the Assembly session when the proposal was discussed, but added that if taken up again, he will strongly support it.

MP Safa Al-Hashem took to social media to criticize those who call her racist when she says that "Kuwait is for Kuwaitis". She called on the Kuwaiti people that it was time they stood up against those who want to create an "alien" entity in Kuwait, adding that "we will defend Kuwait for the sake of future generations".

The issue of citizenship is very delicate and sensitive in Kuwait, especially among urban Kuwaitis, who insist that they are the original inhabitants of the country, and that over the passage of time they have become a minority because of naturalization that made bedouins or tribals larger in numbers than them. Based on unofficial statistics, Kuwaiti tribals are estimated to make up over 50 percent of the population.

The debate also comes amid intense discussions over calls to naturalize thousands of stateless people (bedoons), the overwhelming majority of whom are tribal. Several MPs have been pushing the government to resolve the decades-old problem of bedoons by granting Kuwaiti citizenship to some of them and basic rights to the rest.

In another development, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Anas Al-Saleh yesterday demanded an explanation from MPs Mohammad Hayef and Mohammad Al-Mutair over a grilling they filed against him. The minister said the grilling did not include specific issues but generalized accusations that need further explanation. The grilling, which could be debated on April 30, made several accusations against the minister, including squandering of public funds.

By B Izzak