Interior Ministry begins naturalization registration
BEIRUT: The Interior Ministry has started registering naturalization candidates named in a controversial decree published last week as Lebanese citizens, while a presidential palace source said Wednesday that General Security has not yet finished vetting those named.
“The final report from General Security has not been submitted,” the source told The Daily Star.
Meanwhile, the candidates began filing the necessary paperwork with the Interior Ministry.
Sources told The Daily Star that candidates who have submitted the required documents to the ministry must now wait for an ID number.
After this, the newly naturalized citizens can apply for a Lebanese identity card – the “hawiyeh,” or Lebanese passport.
The Baabda Palace source said they had “no idea” about the procedures currently taking place at the Interior Ministry. The ministry could not be reached for comment.
When the Interior Ministry published the decree, it admitted that the preliminary investigation revealed some of the listed individuals as having suspicious security or judicial alerts. This is currently being examined by General Security.
Earlier Wednesday, MTV Lebanon reported that General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim’s report was near completion and that he would submit it to President Michel Aoun within the next 48 hours. General Security neither confirmed nor denied the reports.
Naturalization has been a controversial topic since the outbreak of the 1975-90 Civil War, mainly due to its implications for the country’s sectarian balance.
While no one has challenged the decree as a violation of the president’s prerogative under the Constitution, the secretive manner of the decree’s passage and its timing raised hackles across the country.
As a result, Aoun designated Ibrahim to investigate and vet the list of names.
While the Interior Ministry moves ahead with the candidates’ paperwork, the Progressive Socialist Party is set to appeal the decree in front of the Shura Council Thursday. A statement from the party Wednesday referred to the decree as a “scam.”
“It appears that the officials responsible for this file are preparing to wrap it up in the well-known Lebanese way, away from transparency and clarity, which confirms the party’s fears,” the statement read.
The statement added that the responsible officials continue to remain silent on the reasons for granting the listed individuals’ citizenship, while also raising questions and concerns about some of those individuals.
“[Some] names are associated with the economic and financial system of Bashar Assad … for example, Farid Bejawwi, who is said to be accused of stealing more than $2 billion from Algeria, and one of [the names is] involved in the Sonatrach scandal,” the statement read.
Sonatrach is Algeria’s state energy company, which has been implicated in a number of corruption cases. – The Daily Star