Kuwaitis rally for democratic reforms

Thousands of protesters gathered outside the parliament demanding the election of a PM from outside the ruling family.

Thousands of Kuwaitis have rallied in front of the parliament  to protest against possible changes in the law [Reuters]
Thousands of Kuwaitis have rallied in front of the parliament to protest against possible changes in the law [Reuters]

More than 3,000 Kuwaitis have protested in front of the parliament demanding the election of a prime minister from outside the ruling al-Sabah family.

Monday’s protest was also against a government move to amend the electoral law and was attended by 21 lawmakers from the opposition-majority parliament which was elected in February before being dissolved months later after the constitutional court declared the polls illegal and reinstated the previous pro-government parliament.

“We have decided as people that (Prime Minister) Jaber al-Mubarak will be the last prime minister… from the al-Sabah” family, prominent Islamist MP Walid al-Tabtabaie told the rally.

The al-Sabah family can “be the emirs but the ministers will be from among us,” he said at the so-called “Determination Square” located opposite the parliament.

“Our problem is with the members of the family who must be kept away from ministerial positions. There must be a law that organises the work of the ruling family,” said former MP Khaled Shakheer.

“I will come every evening to the Determination Square with the people until our demands are met,” he told the demonstrators.

The protest was called for by Nahj an umbrella group of Islamist and independent opposition and youth activists who have called for activating the constitutional monarchy concept in Kuwait.

An AFP news agency correspondent reported tight security measures in the square and the areas surrounding it.

Continuing protests

Hundreds of opposition activists insisted on remaining in the square even after the demonstration was over despite a ban by the interior ministry on any sit-ins.

They said that they will continue their protests until the constitutional court announces its final decision on amending the electoral law later this month.

Earlier this month the government decided to refer the electoral law, amended in its current form in 2006, to the constitutional court over suspicion that it contradicts the constitution.

The move will effectively put on hold dissolving the pro-government parliament, reinstated in a court ruling on June 20 after it was dismissed in December, and holding fresh general election.

A similar rally took place last week against the move, described by the opposition as a coup against the constitutional system.

Kuwait was the first Arab state in the Gulf to introduce democracy 50 years ago but the constitution leaves massive powers in the hands of the ruler and the government is dominated by the al-Sabah dynasty that has ruled the country for over 250 years without any challenge.

Since 2006, the government resigned nine times and parliament was dissolved on five occasions.

Source: News Agencies

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