Kuwait opposition ups pressure on premier

AFP , Tuesday 1 Mar 2011

Kuwait's Popular Action Bloc, Islamist Development and Reform Bloc and Islamic Salaf Alliance intensify their demands, calling for sacking the prime minister

Kuwaiti opposition groups on Tuesday intensified their demands for the sacking of the prime minister, blamed for stalling development in the oil-rich Gulf state.

A day after the Popular Action Bloc, a key opposition group, demanded the ouster of Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah, two more groups warned Tuesday that the political crisis will worsen if the premier stays.

We "warn against a cabinet reshuffle or a resignation followed by asking Sheikh Nasser to form the new cabinet," said the Islamist Development and Reform Bloc in a statement.

"Such a move ... will not take Kuwait out of its chronic crises but will certainly lead to a stronger showdown at a greater cost," the Bloc said.

The statement said that a prime minister who has led six cabinets in five years and who has been quizzed in parliament eight times and "was accused of squandering public funds ... certainly does not deserve to stay."

The group said the consecutive governments led by Sheikh Nasser have spent budgets totalling $330 billion in the past five years "without making any major achievement."

Another Islamist group, the Islamic Salaf Alliance, also called for forming a new government with a new prime minister "capable of adopting a reformist programme."

A televised address by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah on Tuesday did not touch on the political crisis in the emirate, as he only thanked citizens for playing active roles in marking Kuwait's national occasions.

The opposition groups demand the removal of the Kuwaiti premier -- a senior member of the Al-Sabah ruling family, together have 10 MPs in the 50-seat parliament and are supported by at least seven others.

Sheikh Nasser, a nephew of the ruler, has been under increasing pressure to resign and in January narrowly survived a non-cooperation vote that could have ousted him.

Since being appointed to the post in early 2006, Sheikh Nasser has fought almost non-stop with the opposition in parliament and five of his six cabinets were forced to resign.

As a result of ongoing political crises, parliament was also dissolved three times.

Opposition groups in Kuwait agreed to shelve anti-government protests in February as the country marked the 50th anniversary of its independence, the 20th anniversary of Kuwait's liberation from Iraqi occupation and the emir's ascendance to power five years ago.

But a group of youths called the Fifth Fence plans to hold a protest outside parliament on March 8 to press for the ouster of the prime minister and has been urging supporters through Twitter to gather in large numbers.

Also, the newly established liberal Kuwaiti Progressive Group called on Saturday for the prime minister to quit and for the implementation of political reforms.

Short link: