In­te­rior Min­istry be­gins nat­u­ral­iza­tion reg­is­tra­tion

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - LEBANON -

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

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