Last updated: 21 November, 2011

Kuwaitis rally for a change of government

Thousands of Kuwaitis rallied on Monday for a change of government and the dissolution of parliament a day after the Gulf state ruler said he will not bow to pressure to change the prime minister.

Organisers estimated a crowd of 15,000 people braved rain to gather opposite the parliament building in the capital Kuwait City, where they also called for the premier to face questioning over graft allegations.

“We have come here to demand changing the government. This is part of our constitutional rights,” lawyer Osama al-Shaheen told the opposition-sponsored rally.

Opposition MP Shuaib al-Muwaizri urged Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, a senior member of the ruling family, to respond to the people’s demands and step down.

Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahamd Al-Sabah told the editors of Kuwaiti dailies on Sunday that he will not bow to opposition pressure to change the prime minister or dissolve parliament.

He also strongly blasted the storming of the parliament building last week by opposition activists and MPs, calling it a “black day” for Kuwait.

Islamist MP Jamaan al-Harbash called on the premier to accept to be questioned on November 29 over allegations of a corruption scandal involving 15 pro-government MPs and overseas money transfers into his accounts.

The government has strongly denied the charges.

Harbash said that if the prime minister’s grilling does not take place, the “opposition MPs will quit their parliamentary seats.”

Supporters of the embattled premier plan to rally on Tuesday to declare their backing for him.

Kuwait is OPEC’s third largest producer, pumping around 3.0 million barrels of oil per day. It has accumulated more than $300 billion in assets, but development projects have been stalled because of political disputes.