Kuwait opposition calls for demo against law change

AFP , Saturday 20 Oct 2012

Kuwaiti interior ministry places security agencies and the police on alert amid warnings of violence following calls by opposition groups to demonstrate on Sunday against a decision to amend the electoral law

A policeman gestures at Kuwaiti demonstrators during an anti-government protest in front of the parliament in Kuwait City, October 15, 2012. REUTERS

Opposition groups have called on Kuwaiti people to demonstrate on Sunday against a decision by the oil-rich Gulf state ruler to amend the controversial electoral law, organisers said.

The demonstration called "Dignity of a Nation" will be held in Kuwait City at the seaside Seif Palace which houses offices for the emir, crown prince and the government, organisers said on their Twitter account on Saturday.

Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah ordered the government Friday to amend the electoral constituency law ahead of the upcoming election.

The opposition has described the move to amend the law as an attempt to manipulate the polls outcome.

The decision came despite a ruling by the emirate's constitutional court last month that the electoral law was in line with the constitution after an appeal by the government.

Almost all Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition groups, around 50 former MPs and dozens of former election candidates, have announced they are boycotting the election expected in early December.

Chiefs of bedouin tribes including the head of the largest tribe Awazem, Falah bin Jame, said they will call on their tribes to boycott the polls. Tribes make more than half of Kuwait's native population of 1.2 million.

The emir's decision was, however, warmly welcomed by former pro-government MPs who said the decision will help stabilise the OPEC nation.

Kuwaiti media reported on Saturday that the interior ministry has placed security agencies and the police on alert amid warnings of violence. Authorities allow rallies but say processions are illegal.

"If there are reactions by the people and youth, that could become chaotic and lead to confrontations, (it should be known) that it is not the people or opposition who caused it but the (emir's) decision," former Islamist opposition MP Khaled al-Sultan wrote on Twitter.

"The situation will be extremely complex and highly charged with anger, challenge and violence," independent writer Khalifa al-Khorafi, a former election candidate said on his Twitter account.

Opposition groups have called for a meeting later Saturday to plan for the demonstration.

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