Kuwait opposition threatens poll boycott
KUWAIT CITY - The Kuwaiti opposition said Wednesday it will boycott the forthcoming general polls and stage Arab Spring-like protests if the ruler of the Gulf state amended the controversial electoral law.
"If this (the amendment) happens, we will boycott the election and launch street protests," former Islamist MP Waleed al-Tabtabai told a large opposition gathering south of Kuwait City.
"We will not stop until we force abolishing the amended law and the elected parliament," Tabtabai said as the 2,000-strong crowd cheered loudly.
The opposition had said the government plans to amend the electoral constituency law despite a court verdict confirming it two weeks ago with the aim to reduce the chances of its members to win in election.
Kuwait is scheduled to go to the polls for the fifth time since mid-2006 after Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah dissolved parliament on Sunday.
Wednesday's gathering is part of a series of protests planned by the Islamist and nationalist opposition to warn the government against unilaterally issuing legislation in the absence of parliament.
"We are not less than Arab peoples who have retaken their rights. We have repeatedly warned of Arab Spring," reaching Kuwait, said Nayef al-Merdas, a member of the 2012 parliament which was scrapped by the court on June 20.
Former opposition MP Khaled al-Tahus warned that "Kuwait was passing through the most difficult and crucial period of its history," and appealed to the ruler to "exercise his powers in accordance with the constitution".
"Arab peoples have overthrown their regimes not for (higher) salaries or bread, but rather for freedom, dignity and rights. The Kuwaiti people are not seeking to stage a coup against their regime," Tahus said.
On Tuesday, most opposition groups warned in a joint statement that any attempt to amend the electoral law to impact poll results could destabilise Kuwait and undermine relations with the ruling family.
The statement also cautioned that Kuwait, an OPEC member and the first Gulf Arab state to embrace democracy in 1962, was becoming increasingly autocratic.
The Al-Sabahs have ruled the oil-rich emirate unchallenged for more than 250 years. The emir, crown prince, prime minister and key cabinet ministers are all from the ruling family.
The Gulf state has been rocked by a series of political crises since 2006 during which the government resigned nine times and parliament was dissolved on six occasions, five of them by the emir and one by court.