Monday, December 13, 2010
Agence France Presse
KUWAIT CITY: Kuwaiti opposition MPs decided Sunday to delay by one day plans to quiz the premier in Parliament over a police crackdown on a public gathering, MP Mussallam al-Barrak said.
“Tomorrow [Monday] we will file to question the premier over undermining the dignity of people and imposing restrictions on freedoms,” Barrak, spokesman for the opposition Popular Action Bloc, told reporters. He said the delay was needed to give around 20 MPs supporting the move time to read the text of the request to question Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah, a senior member of the Sabah ruling family and a nephew of the emir.
Kuwait’s ruler, meanwhile, held the organizers of the gathering responsible for the police action and warned he would not allow outdoor public gatherings, according to the official KUNA news agency. “What happened was not the mistake of the special forces, which were executing orders to apply the law, but [rather] the result of practices by participants,” Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah told editors of local Kuwaiti dailies.
Sheikh Sabah said adequate measures would be taken to stop “irresponsible practices that aim at plunging the country into political disputes.”
Twenty MPs agreed Thursday to support the questioning of the premier, a day after special forces attacked a peaceful political gathering held by the opposition, wounding four MPs and a dozen citizens.
The rally was the second in a series of opposition protests against an alleged “government plot” to amend the 1962 Constitution, which saw Kuwait becoming the first Arab state in the Gulf to embrace parliamentary democracy.
The new wave of protests came as opposition MPs charged that the Cabinet and its supporters were trying to undermine the status of the Constitution in a bid to suppress freedom and democracy.
The opposition has temporarily suspended further gatherings, according to a statement.
Kuwait has a 50-member Parliament. The 16 Cabinet ministers, of whom 15 are unelected, automatically become members of Parliament and have similar voting rights as elected MPs.
The emirate has been rocked by a series of political crises over the past five years that led the ruler to dissolve Parliament three times, while the Cabinet has resigned five times.
International rights groups have blasted Kuwait for cracking down on peaceful gatherings and called for an immediate probe into the “brutal” action of police.
“Kuwait’s brutal breakup of a political meeting that included Parliament members and professors is a new low in the government’s refusal to respect the right to peaceful assembly,” said Human Rights Watch.
Amnesty International has called on Kuwait to launch an urgent independent probe into the violence used by police and to hold guilty officers accountable.
It also urged Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah to withdraw his call for such public gatherings to be halted.