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Kuwait emir orders crackdown on protest

Kuwait, November 17, 2011

Kuwait's emir ordered security forces to take all necessary measures to safeguard 'public order' after protesters stormed parliament to demand the resignation of the prime minister.

An opposition lawmaker, who took part in the invasion of parliament on Wednesday night, threatened more protests if the government and the assembly were not dissolved.

'His Highness (the emir) ordered the Interior Ministry and the National Guard to take all measures and preparations needed to confront all that affects the security of the country and the requirements for maintaining public order,' the state's Kuna news agency said on Thursday.

It was quoting a government spokesman after an emergency cabinet meeting chaired by Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait.

Kuwait, one of the world's main oil exporters, has largely escaped the so-called Arab Spring unrest that ended in the overthrow of the presidents of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

Witnesses said the storming of parliament was the most serious protest to affect this country. Footage showed protesters, including some opposition members of parliament, smashing down the gate of the building and overpowering security guards.     

'The people want to bring down the head (of government),' the crowds chanted, recalling the cries of thousands of Egyptian demonstrators early this year demanding Hosni Mubarak's ouster.

Kuna said six members of the security forces were hurt in the incident. Forensic experts were seen lifting fingerprints from the assembly building on Thursday after some MPs demanded that those involved in the raid be prosecuted.

The protesters want the government headed by Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, an influential member of the ruling family, to be sacked. They accuse him of corruption. He denies the allegation.

Wednesday's protest came the day after the government and parliament, in an unprecedented move, voted against a request by some lawmakers to question Sheikh Nasser in the assembly.

'We are now waiting for the dissolution of government and the parliament. Until this happens, Wednesday was only the first step among many. We don't fear anything except God,' said opposition lawmaker Musallam Al-Barak.

'This is our assembly and the people's assembly, not the assembly of those who use it to protect their interests. When the constitution is violated, the people will take revenge.'

The country has endured a long political stalemate and opposition has built up against Sheikh Nasser. Media and witnesses said on Wednesday that before the storming of parliament, special police forces had beaten some demonstrators holding a weekly vigil near the assembly.

In May, two lawmakers attempted to question Sheikh Nasser over alleged misuse of public funds, a charge he denies. The request came days after he had unveiled his seventh cabinet. The previous cabinet quit in March to avoid parliamentary questioning of three ministers. - Reuters




Tags: Kuwait | Security | protest |

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