Gulf News - 15/5/2006
A parliamentary motion to bar naturalised Bahrainis from voting in their first ten years as citizens of the kingdom has been backed by the foreign affairs, defence and national security committee, but rejected by the legal affairs department.
The motion, tabled by the Islamic Bloc, said the move to restrict the exercise of political rights was necessary "to eliminate doubts."
According to the draft law, only Arab nationals who have been living in Bahrain for 25 continual years would be eligible for Bahraini nationality.
The proposal adds ten years to the current 15-year residence requirement.
But non-Arabs who currently need to live continually for 25 years in the kingdom and speak Arabic to become eligible were not included in the proposed scheme. The Islamic Bloc said the exceptional granting of citizenship to foreigners with outstanding contributions in the areas of economy, health or culture should be confined to the king and limited to 20 cases per year.
Exceptional cases also covered children born to Bahraini mothers divorced by their foreign husbands and who live in Bahrain until they are 21.
The society said the restricted naturalisation cases would help keep down unemployment figures and would have positive effects on health, education, housing and social services.
The Islamic Bloc has been spearheading a campaign to address the naturalisation process in Bahrain, claiming that it had been abused.