Last updated: 10 June, 2014

Kuwait opposition declares war against rife corruption

The Kuwaiti opposition on Tuesday declared “war” against rife corruption, alleging that tens of billions of dollars of public funds have been stolen by former senior officials.

“The real open war will start after the end of this rally and we will announce its end after we achieve victory against forces of corruption,” prominent opposition leader Mussallam al-Barrak told thousands of people at a public rally.

Barrak, a former MP, also charged that a number of former senior officials have stolen around $50 billion and deposited them in foreign banks including an Israeli bank.

To substantiate his claims, Barrak showed what he said were copies of their accounts and huge transfers to the rally through a large screen.

The rally, the first by the opposition in over a year, was attended by thousands of people who braved scorching heat of over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and cheered the speakers as they revealed alleged corruption scandals.

Barrak challenged the government to hire an international firm to trace the transfers and said he has the documents to prove his claims.

At the end of his defiant speech, Barrak said he was not afraid of any thing and showed a piece of white cloth he said it is to be used for his burial if he was killed.

Former Islamist opposition MP Jamaan al-Harbash said the corruption amounted to high treason.

“This is not only about corruption. What is happening in Kuwait today is high treason,” Harbash said.

The OPEC member appears to be sliding back into political turmoil following months of relative calm that came after years of bitter disputes between MPs and the government.

The country was shaken two months ago after news surfaced about videotapes allegedly showing former senior officials plotting a coup. Two newspapers have already been shut twice for a total of 19 days for breaking a news blackout on the issue.

Three MPs in the 50-member parliament resigned on April 30 after the house rejected a request to grill the prime minister over alleged corruption. Two more lawmakers resigned a few days later.

Two ministers have already quit from the 16-member cabinet formed in August but reshuffled in January.

Kuwait opposition groups in April called for unprecedented democratic reforms including a Western-style party system and an elected government to limit the powers of the emirate’s Al-Sabah ruling family which has been in power for over 250 years.

Kuwait witnessed its worst domestic political turmoil in its history between mid-2006 and last year during which about a dozen governments were formed and parliament was dissolved six times.