KUWAIT: The Appeals Court yesterday overturned a Lower Court verdict in which it ordered the government to return citizenship to a former Islamist MP and ruled that it was not competent under the law to handle sovereign issues like citizenship. Earlier this year, the Lower Court ruled that the government’s revoking of former MP Abdullah Al-Barghash citizenship along with 56 members of his family, was illegal and ordered the government to re-instate all citizenships.

The government took the action last year as part of a crackdown on the opposition but based its decision on an article in the nationality law which speaks about cheating in obtaining the nationality. The government challenged the Lower Court ruling in the Appeals Court and insisted that courts have no power on the so-called sovereign issues like nationality under the Kuwaiti law. The Appeals Court accepted the government argument and said that the law clearly stipulates that the court have no jurisdiction over nationality law and accordingly cancelled the Lower Court decision.

Barghash and his family members still have a last chance to go the Supreme Court whose rulings are final. Barghash was in the Palace of Justice waiting for the ruling and said he accepts the verdicts of the judiciary but hinted at a challenge. In its ruling, the Appeals Court said that the only aspect in the nationality law that Kuwaiti courts can handle is when authorities refuse to grant children of Kuwaiti fathers their citizenships and not other aspects. It said that Barghash and his brothers and sister obtained their nationality in the early 1960s in a different way.

It said that their father had lived in the country since before 1920 but at the time of implementing the nationality law in 1959, he was very ill and died before registering himself and his children. Later, his children obtained the citizenship after witnesses testified to authorities that they were living in the country before the Nationality Law and their father died before registering, the court said. Accordingly, their father was not Kuwaiti and the court cannot handle their case, it said. The court had revoked the citizenship of several opposition members and even deported Saad Al-Ajmi, an activist with the opposition Popular Action Movement, after withdrawing his nationality.

In another development, Oil Minister Ali Al-Omair appears to be headed out of the ministry after two years in the post following non-stop controversies with top oil executives. The most likely scenario, expected to be announced today or early next week, is to move Omair to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs while the State Ministry for National Assembly Affairs will remain with him. The solution involves dissolving the board of directors of Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) and appointing new executives. The next oil minister is likely to be State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah or Anas Al-Saleh.

MP Ahmad Al-Qhudhaibi, who was at loggerheads with Omair and was preparing to grill him, welcomed the news about the minister’s planned exit and said this proves that his decisions in the oil sector were not correct.

The lawmaker said that the plan proves that oil ministers have no powers to move top oil executives out of their positions. He said the plan shows that the supremacy of law in Kuwait has emerged the winner.