Kuwait revoked the citizenship of a prominent opposition activist on Monday, something he said was a political move by a government that has vowed to crack down on people deemed to be undermining state stability.
Kuwait-born Saad Al-Ajmi, spokesman of the nationalist opposition Popular Action Movement, was one of 18 people to have their citizenship removed – an action that is not uncommon in a country where people who live without citizenship rights are unable to access services such as healthcare and education.
Eleven of the 18 were naturalised citizens whose Kuwaiti nationality had been found to have been granted not in accordance with the law, state news agency KUNA said.
The reason for the action taken against the other seven was unclear and al-Ajmi said that in his case it was political.
“It’s clear that they are targeting people with political positions,” said al-Ajmi, a former correspondent for Saudi-based Al Arabiya TV who covered the 2012 “Arab Spring” uprisings.
Since July, Kuwait had already revoked the citizenship of at least 10 people, including a Muslim cleric, the owner of a pro-opposition television station and a former Islamist opposition lawmaker, after the government adopted an “iron fist policy” against those deemed to “undermine the stability” of the state.
Kuwait’s elected parliament has long feuded with the appointed government in which ruling family members hold some top posts, and the country has been unsettled by an investigation into an alleged plot to overthrow the ruling system.
Kuwait allows more political freedom than other Gulf Arab states, with a lively press and an elected parliament, but has banned public gatherings of more than 20 people without a permit.
Kuwait’s Information Ministry has also cancelled the licenses of a local newspaper and a television channel.