Conflict & Justice

Kuwait: Thousands protest changes to electoral laws

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Kuwaiti opposition supporters run for cover as riot police fire tear gas during a protest in Kuwait City, on October 21, 2012, against the decision by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah to amend the electoral law despite it having been confirmed by a court last month. Kuwaiti riot police beat opposition protesters who were gathering for a massive demonstration against a decision to change the electoral law, organisers and witnesses said.

Credit:

Yasser Al-Zayyat

Kuwaitis took to the streets to protest government-instituted changes to their electoral laws, the latest move in escalating tensions between the ruling al-Sabah family and the parliament. 

Thousands of demonstrators crowded the streets in Kuwait City at several locations to protest the new law, which brings the number of candidates chosen per electoral district down to one, Al Jazeera reported. Opposition members argue that the switch will prevent them from winning a majority number of seats, which they did last election. 

11 policemen were wounded trying to break up the crowds, according to Al Jazeera. 

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The ruling family also called snap elections for December 1, after dissolving the last parliament October 7, Reuters reported. The country has had eight different governments in parliament since al-Sabah took power in 2006; these will be the fifth elections since. 

A court had recently denied the law changes, but that parliament had been dissolved by the emir and so the ruling was scrapped, according to Bloomberg Businessweek

Kuwait's emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Jaber Al Sabah said that the electoral law “showed a set of imbalances and problems that pose a serious threat "to national unity, security, and values and “fomented sectarianism and tribalism,” Bloomberg reported.

The opposition has vowed to boycott the vote, saying the law changes were a "coup against the constitution," Sky News reported

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