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Kuwait opposition demands new assembly be scrapped

Until the newly elected parliament is abolished and the electoral law is scrapped, the Kuwaiti opposition intends to continue protesting

AFP , Sunday 2 Dec 2012

The Kuwaiti opposition vowed Sunday to press on with its protests until a newly elected parliament is abolished and a disputed electoral law is scrapped, a day after a vote they boycotted.

"We will continue with our national and peaceful protests under the umbrella of the constitution to bring the downfall of the new parliament," opposition leader and former MP Faisal al-Muslim told AFP.

"We will use all peaceful and constitutional tools, including demonstrations and gatherings," said Muslim.

The opposition has no representative in the 50-seat parliament after it opted to boycott Saturday's polls to protest the government's unilateral amendment of the key electoral law.

Under the previous law, a voter was able to choose a maximum of four candidates which was reduced to only one in the new system.

The opposition, which held 36 seats in the dissolved 2012 parliament, has described the move as unconstitutional and says it enables the government to manipulate elections.

"We call for scrapping this parliament and the repealing of the one-vote decree because this parliament does not represent the Kuwaiti people," Muslim said.

"The majority of the Kuwaiti people sent a direct and transparent message to the emir... rejecting the new measures adopted by the government and calling for the new assembly to be abolished," Muslim said.

A majority of the Kuwaiti people heeded to the opposition calls to boycott the parliamentary election on Saturday "which is evident from the fact that voter turnout was less than 27 percent," he said.

As a result of the massive boycott, candidates from the Shiite minority won unprecedented 17 seats, almost doubling their strength from nine seats in 2009. Seven Shiites won seats in the February polls which the court nullified.

Muslim said the new parliament cannot be trusted to "legislate, monitor the government actions or handle public funds".

The Kuwaiti opposition would continue to refuse to "deal with the new parliament or the next government," as long as the controversial law stays and the new assembly is not dissolved, Muslim said.

The opposition's Popular Committee for Boycotting Election said Sunday that the new assembly "does not represent the majority of Kuwaiti people and has lost popular and political legitimacy".

Muslim said the opposition would meet in the coming few days to prepare a list of activities in a bid to step up pressure on the government and the new parliament.

OPEC member Kuwait has been rocked by a series of political crises which stalled development despite a huge wealth from oil.

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