Small turnout in Kuwait opposition protest
KUWAIT CITY - Kuwaiti riot police on Sunday fired tear gas and stun grenades at hundreds of opposition protesters who demanded that the new parliament be dissolved and controversial electoral legislation be scrapped.
Police arrested several protesters including Osama al-Shaheen, a member of the previous opposition-dominated parliament, as they chased demonstrators through a residential area south of the capital, Kuwait City.
Mohammad al-Humaidi, director of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights, said on his Twitter account that a number of women were among those detained.
It was the first opposition demonstration in about a month, with a much smaller turnout than the tens of thousands of people who took part in each of the previous four rallies starting on October 21.
The opposition has been staging demonstrations in protest against a government amendment to the key electoral law which it says allows the government to impact the outcome of an election.
But the authorities went ahead and held an election on December 1 which was boycotted by Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition groups and which resulted in a predominantly pro-government parliament.
Former MPs have filed petitions with the constitutional court, challenging the amendment to the electoral law by saying it is unconstitutional. If the court accepts the motions, it could order parliament dissolved.
The court may take several months to rule on the case, however.
The Gulf state has been rocked by a series of political disputes since mid-2006 between MPs and the government.
Earlier on Sunday, a Kuwaiti court sentenced an opposition youth to two years in jail for writing tweets deemed offensive to the ruler of the oil-rich emirate, Humaidi said.
Rashed al-Enezi was in court for the sentencing, and was immediately taken to jail, Humaidi said.
He said that more than 200 opposition activists, including former MPs, face trial on a variety of charges, mainly criticising the emir who is protected against criticism under the constitution.
The same court is slated to issue verdicts on Monday on another young tweeter and a member of the scrapped parliament on similar charges.