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Kuwait MPs fails to meet on stateless rights

Govt accused of deliberately aborting the meeting

Kuwait's parliament on Thursday failed to hold a special session to resolve the humanitarian issue of stateless Arabs, as some MPs accused the government of deliberately aborting the meeting.

The meeting could not be held for a lack of quorum after only 26 MPs and five ministers showed up, two short of the number required for the session to start. Parliament has 49 elected MPs and 16 cabinet ministers.

The session was called on December 10 to coincide with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to approve a draft law stipulating full civil and social rights for around 100,000 stateless Arabs who are deprived of their basic rights.

Head of the parliamentary committee on stateless Arabs, locally known as bidoons, MP Hassan Jowhar accused the interior minister of aborting the session by applying tight security measures and blocking roads leading to parliament.

Hundreds of security officials blocked roads leading to parliament building in Kuwait City and prevented the public from approaching the house.

The security measures appear to be in response to calls by some MPs to the bidoons to assemble in large numbers outside the parliament.

Jowhar told AFP that the latest official figure for the number of bidoons is 96,000 as thousands of them were forced to obtain third country passports to be able to get jobs and other basic rights in the oil-rich emirate.

Kuwait launched a crackdown on bidoons in 2000, depriving them of their essential rights in a bid to force them to reveal what the authorities say is their true identity. The government insists that most bidoons came from neighboring countries after the discovery of oil in the 1930s.

Authorities said that following the crackdown, some 20,000 bidoons disclosed their original citizenship and were given residence permits like other foreigners.