Kuwait rally urges parliament dissolution

Kuwaiti opposition activists demonstrate in downtown Kuwait City to demand dissolution of the new parliament, December 15, 2012.

Hundreds of Kuwaiti opposition activists have staged a demonstration to demand the dissolution of the new parliament and to press for political reforms in the Persian Gulf state.

On Sunday, the demonstrators marched through the streets of Sabah Al-Nasser, a predominantly tribal area just southwest of the capital Kuwait City, to show their opposition to the parliament, elected last month in general polls boycotted by opposition political groups, AFP reported.

“This is a parliament of shame,” said Mussallam al-Barrak, a leading opposition figure and a former member of the parliament.

The demonstrators also protested against an amendment to a key electoral law, saying it allows the government to impact the outcome of elections.

Last week, Kuwaiti police used tear gas canisters, rubber bullets, and stun grenades to disperse a similar protest.

On December 27, 2012, Human Rights Watch issued a statement, sharply criticizing Kuwait’s security forces over their use of “excessive force” against anti-government protesters.

Since the December 1, 2012 parliamentary elections, the opposition has been staging protests to demand that the new parliament be dissolved and the changes made to the electoral law be reversed.

Activists say a decision to change the electoral law by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah is aimed at electing a rubber-stamp parliament.

Kuwait was the first Arab state in the Persian Gulf to establish an elected parliament in 1962. However, the Al Sabah family remained in control of key posts, including the premiership and the ministries of defense, interior, and foreign affairs.