KUWAIT: Hundreds of opposition supporters demonstrated in various areas of Kuwait late Monday to demand scrapping the newly elected national Assembly. Night demonstrations were staged in at least four areas of the state and that riot police used teargas and stun grenades to disperse the protesters.
A man is seen carrying a weapon during the protest
The demonstrations were not previously announced and began at the same time in a coordinated way to press demands for abolishing the new parliament and scrapping a disputed amendment to the electoral law.
“It was decided by opposition youth activists to stage night protests from tonight until next Saturday when the opposition plans a major procession,” a youth activist said, requesting anonymity. The interior ministry said yesterday it has detained an unspecified number of people, including expatriates and bedoons for taking part in the illegal demonstrations on Monday night and for carrying out violent acts against the police force.
Saturday’s snap polls were boycotted by the opposition and all the 50 seats were won by pro-government candidates, including a record 17 seats by the Shiite minority. The Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition boycotted the polls in protest against the amendment of the electoral law which the opposition says it enables the government to control the outcome of polls.
HH the Amir yesterday began traditional consultations ahead of naming a prime minister to form the new Cabinet before the new parliament holds its inaugural session on Dec 16. The Amir met former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and former Assembly speaker Jassem Al-Khorafi but did not meet with the other former speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun, the veteran opposition leader, prompting rumours that Saadoun declined to attend. But the four-time former speaker Saadoun denied on his Twitter account that he declined the meeting with the Amir, saying that he was outside Kuwait.
An Amiri decree naming the new prime minister is expected to be issued today. Under the constitution, the Amir has the sole authority of naming the prime minister regardless of the outcome of the results of elections. The Amir can ask the outgoing premier Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, which is the most likely scenario or name a new person, including Sheikh Nasser, who resigned in November last year after six years in office.
Newly-elected MPs meanwhile held a number of meetings outside the Assembly yesterday to discuss priorities for the new Assembly in addition to the immediate issues of electing a new speaker and deputy speaker in addition to committees. It has become almost certain that the speaker’s post will be contested by MP Ali Al-Rashed – who appears to be guaranteed of the support of the 17 Shiite MPs – and Islamist MP Ali Al-Omair and liberal MP Ahmad Al-Mulaifi.
The government’s vote on the issue is seen crucial for the success of either candidate. At a reception held last night, Rashed renewed his nomination for the speaker’s post and said the new parliament will vote and approve the single vote decree which triggered the current standoff between the government and MPs.
In another development, the public prosecution yesterday decided to continue detaining 12 opposition youth activists until today after interrogating them on accusations of undermining the status of the Amir and organizing and taking part in illegal demonstrations. The authorities still detain lawyer Khaled Al-Hajeri who was arrested on Monday night while representing Kuwait Society for Human Rights in monitoring the demonstrations in Rigga area. The Society has protested to authorities against his arrest and demanded he should be released immediately.