Israeli normalisation prompts Sudan to revoke citizenship of Palestinians

Published: 22/Dec/2020
Source: Middle East Monitor

By Dr Adnan Abu Amer

In a surprise move, the ruling military regime in Sudan announced its intention ten days ago to revoke the Sudanese citizenship of more than 3,500 people, of whom the majority are Palestinians. The former head of the Hamas Political Bureau, Khaled Meshaal, and the speaker of the Tunisian parliament, Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of the Islamic Ennahda Movement, are among those losing their Sudanese citizenship.

This controversial step follows the US Congress vote last week to remove Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism, which itself was preceded by a decision by the regime in Khartoum to normalise relations with Israel. This raises questions about the future of Sudan in the post-normalisation phase. While the Sudanese regime remained silent about this sudden development, the Ministry of the Interior confirmed the issuance of Resolution 521 revoking the citizenship of 112 individuals, as well as administrative and legal decisions and measures regarding the revocation of decisions to grant citizenship to 3,500 people between 1989 and 2019.

A number of Palestinians affected by the decision confirmed to me the decision to revoke the citizenship of 3,000 Palestinians who were granted it by a decree issued by former President Omar Al-Bashir in 2014. They also pointed out that most of them live outside the country and, it is alleged, did not submit all of the necessary supporting documents for their citizenship; that is the pretence for the revocation. This has caused some anxiety within the Palestinian community living in Sudan, with questions about whether the matter was limited to an administrative issue or has political connotations that may lead to all Palestinians being deported from the country, which has been a safe haven with special privileges not found in other Arab states.

“The decision of the Military Council paves the way for the revocation of Sudanese citizenship of those associated with Islamist and political currents, regardless of the conditions for eligibility to obtain it,” explained one Palestinian who lives in Sudan. “Ever since the overthrow of the Bashir regime in 2019, and the Council’s assumption of power, many Palestinians here have been warned that things are out of control and that their stay in Sudan is no longer safe. They were also warned that sooner or later, the Military Council would issue a decision to remove the Sudanese cover from all naturalised individuals who cause it embarrassment with Western countries, or regional countries opposed to Islamists.”

Although there are 6,000 naturalised Palestinians in Sudan, fewer than 200 obtained citizenship after fulfilling the state’s residency requirements. It is believed that the decision to revoke citizenship will include all who obtained it during Bashir’s presidency. The local Palestinians in Sudan also fear that the decision will expand to include the closure of charities whose work focuses on supporting students and families in need.

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Themes: Loss and Deprivation of Nationality
Regions: Sudan
Year: 2020