Kuwait May Employ Troops Against Opposition
Kuwaiti authorities are considering bringing troops into the capital Kuwait City, to bring calm amidst protests against the regime. It’s thought the army may be involved in the security opposition to contain a march, set to take place on Sunday.
“The army and national guard may be called in if needed to deal with any breach of public order,” an unnamed source in the law enforcement told emirate’s Al-Anbaa newspaper on Saturday.
The country’s interior ministry maintains it “will use all means necessary to prevent illegal processions,” the source continued.
The ongoing standoff between the opposition and police erupted in clashes near the central prison in the Sulaibiya district of Kuwait on Wednesday.
Police used tear gas to disperse thousands of supporters of the detained former Kuwaiti Islamist, MP Mussallam Barrak, injuring thirty demonstrators in the process.
Barrack has been accused of “undermining the status of the Emir” during a speech he gave on October 15. On Thursday the former MP was released on bail.
Three other former opposition Kuwaiti MPs were arrested on similar charges in October, all of whom are expected to stand trial in mid November.
International human rights watchdogs have condemned the harsh crackdown, urging Kuwait to respect the right to peaceful demonstration.
The opposition’s planned march on Sunday is to oppose an electoral law amendment, recently introduced by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, in the face of early parliamentary elections on December 1.
In October Sheikh Sabah issued a decree reducing the number of votes cast by each citizen from four to one. The decree will also make it harder for the opposition to form coalitions, giving an edge to pro-government candidates.
Two days after the decree was issued, Kuwait witnessed the biggest protest rally in the country’s history, with as many as 100,000 people of the country’s 3.5 million joined taking to the streets. The march was dispersed by riot police, leaving over 100 protesters injured.
The entire spectrum of the opposition – Islamists, liberals and nationalists – also announced they would boycott the elections for the National Assembly scheduled for 1 December.
The opposition won a February general election, but the ruling House of Sabah dissolved parliament and reinstated the previous pro-government assembly in June.
Barrak called the move “a coup against the constitution”, prompting his arrest.
Kuwait has thus far avoided the social unrest sparked throughout the Muslim world in the wake of the Arab spring, though tensions continue to grow between oppositional forces and monarchy headed by its constitutionally “inviolable” emir.