Kuwait’s ruler has said the storming of parliament by the opposition last week was a “black day” in the country’s history and insisted he will not bow to demands to sack the prime minister or dissolve parliament.
“What happened was abnormal … The day when MPs (and dozens of protesters) stormed parliament … was a black day for us,” Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said during a meeting with Kuwaiti editors in comments published Monday.
Youth activists led by opposition lawmakers stormed Kuwait’s parliament building on Wednesday after clashing with police during a rally that called for dissolving the house and sacking the prime minister over alleged corruption.
“Based on the constitution, I appoint and sack the prime minister and ministers … Even if I had the intention to ask him to resign, I will not do so under pressure from these people (opposition),” said the emir, cited by Al-Jarida daily.
Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, a senior member of the ruling family and a nephew of the emir, has been under pressure to quit over allegations of corruption and accusations that he transferred public funds to his overseas accounts.
The two charges have been categorically denied by the government.
Under Kuwaiti law, the emir heads the parliament, government and the judiciary and has ultimate control over appointing and sacking cabinet members and dissolving parliament.
The emir said around 40 people, including MPs, have been referred to the prosecution for legal action for storming parliament and vowed they will not be pardoned.
The new wave of confrontation between opposition MPs and the prime minister was triggered by allegations that the government paid up to $350 million to around 15 MPs to secure their votes on crucial issues.
The emir said the allegations have been referred to the judiciary on “money laundering” charges and all those found guilty would be punished accordingly. Opposition MPs have boycotted parliament sessions, saying they cannot sit in the house while more than a quarter of the 50-member chamber are suspected of major illegal financial transactions.
In the aftermath of the parliament incident, the emir ordered the security forces to take all necessary measures to maintain law and order.
The opposition however has so far remained defiant and plans to hold a fresh rally later Monday.
Kuwait is OPEC’s third largest producer, pumping around 3.0 million barrels of oil per day. It has accumulated over $300 billion in assets but projects have been stalled because of political disputes.