3 top Lebanese parties urge Aoun to annul citizenship decree

Prior to the 1975-90 civil war the Lebanese passport was in high demand , but after the civil war the Lebanese found the hard way that they need a second passport . The Lebanese passport is among the top 10 worst passports to own because of the tough visa restriction issues.

The Lebanese Forces, the Progressive Socialist Party and the Phalange Party issued  on Friday  a joint statement urging President Michel Aoun to annul a controversial decree granting Lebanese citizenship to hundreds  of Arab and foreign nationals

“After the authorities heeded our request on publishing the citizenship decree, and after the Interior Ministry confirmed that preliminary investigations have unveiled the presence of security and judicial suspicions over several names included in the citizenship decree, the Phalange Party , the LF and the PSP call on the President to annul this decree,” the statement said.

The three parties added that Aoun should issue “another decree that would only include very particular cases for very specific humanitarian reasons that comply with the Lebanese Constitution’s stipulations.”

The Interior Ministry published the highly controversial decree on Thursday, after politicians and ordinary citizens alike were outraged over the secrecy that shrouded the move.

The list published on the ministry’s website comprised more than 400 names of various nationalities. A quarter of the applicants are  Syrians and just over a quarter are  Palestinians.

Iraq’s  vice-presidents Iyad Allawi , his wife and three children  were  mentioned as passport candidates. Alawai  , whose mother is Lebanese  also holds a  British Passport

From Syria, those on the list include the three sons of Syrian steel and flour mogul Farouq Joud, powerful industrialist Khaldun al-Zoabi and Mazen Mortada, the son of a former Syrian minister.

The decree’s critics have slammed the secrecy that surrounded the move and said it adds insult to injury for thousands unable to acquire nationality because they were born to Lebanese mothers and foreign fathers.

Although it was issued on May 11, according to the Interior Ministry’s statement, news of the decree’s existence only emerged last week when dozens of names allegedly included in the edict were leaked to the media.

The president’s office confirmed the decree’s existence, but said it had submitted the names to the General Security agency to verify they all have “the right” to become Lebanese.

That agency, in turn, established a hotline and encouraged citizens to call in any relevant information about named individuals.

Lebanese media has reported the list may include businessmen known to be close to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Officials admit some have criminal records

Lebanese officials have revealed that 4 candidates mentioned in the controversial presidential decree may have criminal records,

“There are suspicions over only four names among them individuals wanted on Interpol warrants,” ministerial sources told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in remarks published Friday.

“The Interior Ministry was aware of their situation and it submitted documented reports about them to the Presidency and the Premiership, demanding that their names be omitted from the decree,” the sources added.

“The decree is still legal but it has been suspended and any official Lebanese documents have not been issued for any of those included in the decree, although some of them have submitted additional papers to finalize their files,” the sources went on to say, reassuring that “no documents will be issued before scrutinizing the names mentioned in the decree.”

The decree’s critics have slammed the secrecy that surrounded the move and said it adds insult to injury for thousands unable to acquire nationality because they were born to Lebanese mothers and foreign fathers.

Patriarch Beshara al Rai slammed the decree during the Sunday mass  as unconstitutional  and criticized the citizen ship law  as outdated .

“Is it conceivable that the law issued in 1925 under the French mandate,  20 years before the National Charter and independence will remain the basis for the granting the  Lebanese nationality?” He  said on Sunday .

he added: While the Lebanese people were waiting for the birth of a new government that would be at the level of challenges, expectations and promises, the authority shocked the nation when they  issued  a decree to naturalize a group of foreigners who were not of Lebanese origin.

The president’s office confirmed the decree’s existence, but said it had submitted the names to the General Security agency to verify they all have “the right” to become Lebanese.

That agency, in turn, established a hotline and encouraged citizens to call in any relevant information about named individuals.

Lebanese media has reported the list may include businessmen known to be close to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.