Kuwait arrests four at anti-government protest

17 October 2012

Demonstrators rally outside National Assembly against changes to election law

Kuwaiti security forces have arrested four people after clashes with protesters during a rally outside the National Assembly building against proposed changes to the Gulf state’s electoral constituency law.

Further protests are planned by the opposition and members of the dissolved 2012 National Assembly, the local English language daily Kuwait Times reports.

Riot police used batons to beat up opposition protesters, numbering approximately 5,000 as they marched in a procession following a rally outside the National Assembly on 15 October. One of the detained protesters was Abdulaziz al-Sadoun, the son of opposition leader and former speaker of Parliament, Ahmad al-Sadoun.

The protest was organised by the National Front for Safeguarding the Constitution, an umbrella for all opposition groups.

The group claims the government plans to amend Kuwait’s electoral constituency law in order to manipulate the polls results ahead of elections for a new parliament. The current law divides the country into five constituencies, but a reform would see this increased to 25, a move which could favour the government. Each voter is also allowed to cast four votes, but the government is reported to want this reduced to one or two votes.

Parliament was dissolved for the second time in less than a year on 7 October by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah. The emir previously dissolved parliament in December 2011. Elections in February ended with a parliamentary majority for the opposition, leading to months of political limbo, making progress on critical infrastructure investment and decision-making impossible.

A decree establishing parliamentary elections is yet to be issued, although according to the constitution, they must be held before 7 December.

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