Lebanon News

Citizenship decree to face legal challenges: lawmakers

File - Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: Angry lawmakers vowed Sunday that a presidential decree granting citizenship to 112 foreigners would not go unchallenged after a copy of the text appeared in the local press. Rumors of the decree’s existence have been circulating for months, but last week the daily As-Safir published the document in full after it did not appear in any of the weekly official gazettes. The decree has sparked outrage, especially from Lebanese women who are barred by law from giving their nationality to their foreign husbands and children.

The news website Elnashra quoted parliamentary sources calling Decree 10214 an “unacceptable scandal.”

According to Law 15, which was issued in 1925 during the French Mandate period, the president may grant citizenship to individuals who have performed a “significant service” to the country. The sources questioned what services had been rendered by the individuals listed in the recent decree, which included members of the clergy, Jordanian royals and others rumored to be related to high-ranking Lebanese officials.

The sources also accused the signatories – President Michel Sleiman, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel – of backdating the decree to March 22, the day the Cabinet resigned.

The sources promised the decree would face legal challenges from injured parties who had stronger cases and submitted applications for citizenship previously, indicating they would appeal to the Shura Council to either block the decree altogether or purge the list of “undeserving” individuals.

The sources called on the president, prime minister and interior minister to justify their actions. They added that the public, and particularly the mothers who are barred from passing their Lebanese nationality on to their children, deserve an explanation as to why a select handful of Arabs and Westerners were chosen to receive citizenship as well as the nature of any “services” rendered.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 23, 2013, on page 4.

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