BEIRUT: Reports emerged Thursday about a new naturalization decree expected to be issued in the coming days that will grant Lebanese citizenship to a number of foreign nationals.
Al-Akhbar newspaper reported that the decree will include some 100 names, with the majority of applicants being Syrian nationals in addition to others from Palestine, Jordan, Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, the United States, Iran, Chile and India, as well as a number of stateless applicants.
The controversial decree is expected to provoke criticism, especially since it will be issued by a caretaker government. The newspaper raised the possibility that the decree could be challenged in front of the Constitutional Council.
The newspaper quoted a government source saying that the “decree was being ‘cooked’ in a [public] institution ... following the parliamentary elections.” Al-Akhbar’s source did not rule out that money was paid to certain government officials, given that the majority of people included in the decree are businessmen.
According to Al-Akhbar, the decree was ready to be signed before the last Cabinet session, but the signature was postponed for “unknown reasons.” The paper added that the decree was prepared by caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil with the cooperation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s political aid Nader Hariri, before the latter resigned from his position earlier this month. The decree also requires the signature of caretaker Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, President Michel Aoun as well as Hariri.