MPs approve law to naturalize 4,000 people amid objections

KUWAIT: The National Assembly yesterday approved a host of draft laws including a law allowing the government to naturalize up to 4,000 people this year in a bid to resolve the decades-old problem of stateless people. The Assembly also passed laws regulating advocates, insurance, companies and accounting, besides a key law to regulate the personal status affairs of Shiites, who reportedly form some one-third of the 1.4 million native population.

The law on naturalization was passed despite objections by a number of MPs, who said it could pose a danger to Kuwait's national identity. MP Abdullah Al-Roumi said the law was not needed since the government can naturalize people under the existing nationality law, while MP Omar Al-Tabtabaei warned the law could pose risks to Kuwait's national identity.

MP Yousef Al-Fadhalah warned the interior minister that MPs will investigate the history of all naturalized people to ensure there is no political purpose for the law. Similar legislations are passed every year, but the government rarely uses them, keeping the problem of 120,000 stateless people or bedoons unresolved. Interior Minister Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah last year said the government found only 100 people who fulfilled the conditions.

The Assembly also passed a law to regulate the profession of lawyers amid some controversy. The Assembly rejected an amendment by the legal and legislative committee to bar graduates of the Islamic Studies College from becoming lawyers as has been the case for years. MPs voted to scrap the amendment. For the first time, the law bars MPs, members of the Municipal Council and university law professors from practicing law or opening legal firms while in office.

The Assembly also passed a law banning the transfer of non-profit companies into commercial firms. MPs also passed two laws to regulate the insurance market and another on regulating accounting. Lawmakers also passed for the first time a law regulating the personal status affairs of Shiites. The law provides solutions based on Shiite religious beliefs. The Assembly continues to meet today, when it is expected to debate the state budget before it winds up the current term tomorrow, when MPs are scheduled to vote on a no-confidence motion against the finance minister.

By B Izzak