Last updated: 22 October, 2012

Kuwait’s opposition vows more protests

The Kuwaiti opposition said on Monday it will push ahead with protests until the government meets its demands for reform, a day after 100 demonstrators were injured in confrontations with police.

“Despite the government’s oppressive measures, we affirm that we will continue with the protest campaign… and we will announce new actions soon,” the opposition said in a statement after holding an emergency meeting.

On Sunday, riot police used rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades and beat up hundreds of protesters in a bid to disperse what the opposition described as the largest demonstration in Kuwait’s history.

More than 100 protesters and 11 police were hurt in the unprecedented clashes in the oil-rich Gulf state.

Around 70 protesters were arrested, according to defence lawyer Al-Humaidi al-Subaie.

On Monday, the director of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights, Mohammad al-Humaidi, said that the interior minister had ordered the release of all those detained during Sunday’s demonstration.

“All of them have been freed without bail,” Humaidi said on his Twitter account. Charges against them have not been dropped, he said.

The opposition said more than 100,000 people took part in the protest.

The opposition statement charged that “foreign personnel were part of the riot police” who clashed with protesters. It did not elaborate, but an opposition source said they were members of a foreign community in Kuwait.

The statement said the opposition was ready to wage a “long battle” for reforms.

But the “popular protests are not directed against the Al-Sabah family,” which has ruled Kuwait for more than 250 years unchallenged, the statement said.

“The demands of the Kuwaiti people are not confined to abolishing the (amendment of the electoral law) decree… but also include achieving political reforms that transform Kuwait into a democratic parliamentary state,” it added.

The new political crisis in the oil-rich emirate was sparked by a decision by the ruler to amend the electoral constituency law which the opposition says is aimed at electing a rubber-stamp parliament.

The opposition has said it will boycott snap parliamentary polls slated for December 1.

The trial of three former opposition MPs will meanwhile start on Tuesday on the charge of publicly undermining the status of the emir. The men have been in police custody since Thursday.

The opposition also announced a small gathering outside parliament in Kuwait City in solidarity with the ex-MPs.