Last updated: 5 November, 2012

Kuwaiti ruler slams “illegal” opposition protests

The Kuwaiti ruler criticised the opposition on Monday for staging “illegal” protests that led to violence and called for dialogue to resolve a dispute over changes to the electoral law.

“Like you, I have been struck with feelings of pain, sorrow and concern because of the regrettable developments,” Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said in a televised speech.

“The practices of deviation, violence and chaos have sparked fear and anxiety,” the emir said in reference to three huge protests organised by the opposition in the past two weeks.

Sheikh Sabah accused the opposition of breaking the law by organising “illegal” rallies.

The emir’s criticism came as the opposition said it would organise a new mass demonstration despite police action against the previous protests that left around 150 protesters and 24 policemen injured.

The opposition, composed of Islamists, nationalists and liberals, is protesting against an amendment to the electoral law ordered by the emir that it says is designed to produce a pro-government parliament.

Sheikh Sabah said it had been his constitutional right to order the amendment, dismissing opposition charges that he had no authority to change the law ahead of a snap December 1 general election.

The emir warned the opposition that it would not achieve its goals through threats and challenges. “There is no substitute for dialogue to achieve the best results,” he said.

Sheikh Sabah said he had received calls from Kuwait’s Gulf neighbours offering to provide support to safeguard the emirate’s security and stability.

Riot police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse thousands of opposition protesters on Sunday. Medical sources said 18 demonstrators and eight policemen were slightly hurt.