Thursday, November 17, 2011

Protesters Break into Kuwaiti Parliament

Photo Credit:  Al-Watan



DG:  I must have been under a rock because I haven't seen any of this - but then again, I haven't been downtown for a long time.  I have seen no increase in police presence, no additional security outside of HH the Emir's house, and no national guard.  

...Hey Slaps, do you know that guy in the middle?  Single girls: now is your time to find a husband!  They're just so PASSIONATE! 



Protesters break open the gate as they storm the Kuwaiti National Assembly in Kuwait City on Wednesday
  
Angry protesters demanding that the prime minister step down broke into the Parliament in Kuwait City late Wednesday, said a witness who is a Kuwaiti journalist and asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Videos that appear to have been shot from cell phones and posted on YouTube show a throng of protesters at the Parliament chanting, "The people must remove the prime minister!"

CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the videos, which show Kuwaitis inside the Parliament building.

"There is an attempt to bring down the prime minister," said the witness, who added that the protesters had left the Parliament building and were heading toward Irada Square in downtown Kuwait City.

The country has no elections, according to the CIA Factbook. The emir, whose position is hereditary, appoints the prime minister and the deputy prime ministers. The prime minister's cabinet resigned last March, the CIA Factbook says.

Above article from Rima Maktabi, CNN, (Link) , Photo credit: CNN, November 17, 2011

Kuwait Opposition Protesters Storm Parliament As Political Tensions Rise

The Washington Post (Link), Kuwait City, November 17, 2011 — Opposition lawmakers warned Wednesday of a growing political crisis after dozens of anti-government protesters muscled their way into Kuwait’s parliament during debate over efforts to question the prime minister about corruption allegations.

Local media reported the demonstrators briefly chanted before being forced out as hundreds of others protested outside.

Opposition parliament members have sought to question Prime Minister Sheik Nasser Al Mohammad Al Sabah over claims that government officials illegally transferred money to accounts outside the Gulf country. Last month, Kuwait’s foreign minister resigned as the scandal grew.
Pro-government lawmakers managed to vote down a request for the questioning, but opposition groups filed another motion to force another debate later this month.

Kuwait’s key affairs are run by the ruling Al Sabah family, but it has one of the region’s most politically active parliaments.

The prime minister has survived votes of confidence in parliament in the past and Kuwait’s ruling system does not appear in jeopardy from the opposition groups, which include Islamist parties and others.

But it highlights the rising political tensions inside the strategic Western ally, which could host thousands more U.S. soldiers under a Pentagon proposal to strengthen Gulf forces following the withdrawal from Iraq.

Last months, Kuwait was hit by a wave of strikes that grounded the state airline and threatened to disrupt oil shipments.

Kuwait has not been hit by major pro-reform demonstrations inspired by Arab uprisings, but the tiny Gulf nation stands out in the region because of its hardball political atmosphere. Kuwait’s parliament has the most powers of any elected body in the Gulf, and opposition lawmakers openly criticize the ruling family.

In January, Kuwait’s emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, ordered 1,000 dinar ($3,559) grants and free food coupons for every Kuwaiti. Those handouts have been since dwarfed by other Gulf rulers trying to use their riches to dampen calls for political reform. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has pledged about $93 billion for more government sector jobs and services. Last month, Qatar announced pay and benefit hikes of 60 percent for public employees and up to 120 percent for some military officers.

Kuwaitis are used to a cradle-to-grave social security system that has increasingly become a burden on the government.

By Associated Press, Thursday, November 17, 2:24 AM


Al Arabiya News (has video)
Thousands storm Kuwaiti parliament; Sheikh Sabah promises to maintain security
Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, on Thursday ordered the national guard and security forces to take all “necessary” measures to maintain security in the Gulf state.

The order was issued in a statement by the cabinet which held an emergency meeting chaired by the emir, a day after opposition-led protesters calling for the premier’s resignation stormed the parliament building.

The emir “ordered the interior ministry and the national guards to take all measures and preparations necessary to confront whatever undermines the security of the country and public order,” said the cabinet statement.

He also ordered that they should be “provided with all authority necessary to ensure security and the application of the law... to put an end to such shameful provocative acts,” it added.

Thousands of Kuwaitis had stormed parliament late Wednesday after police and elite forces beat up protesters marching on the prime minister’s home to demand he resign, an opposition MP said.

“Now, we have entered the house of the people,” said Mussallam al-Barrak, who led the protest along with several other lawmakers and youth activists also calling for the dissolution of parliament over alleged corruption.

The demonstrators broke open parliament’s gates and entered the main chamber, where they sang the national anthem and then left after a few minutes.
The police had used batons to prevent protesters from marching to the residence of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah, a senior member of the ruling family, after staging a rally outside parliament.

Opposition parliament members have sought to question the prime minister over claims that government officials illegally transferred money to accounts outside the Gulf country. Last month, Kuwait's foreign minister resigned as the scandal grew.

Pro-government lawmakers managed to vote down a request for the questioning, but opposition groups filed another motion to force another debate later this month.

Kuwait’s key affairs are run by the ruling Sabah family, but it has one of the region’s most politically active parliaments.

Witnesses said at least five demonstrators were injured and treated on the site.

Some activists said they will continue to camp outside parliament until the premier is sacked.

Chanting “the people want to remove the prime minister,” the protesters started to march to the nearby premier’s residence when police blocked their way.

This was the first political violence in the oil-rich Gulf state since December, when elite forces beat up protesters and MPs at a public rally, though activists have been holding protests since March.

Tension has been building in Kuwait over the past three months after it was alleged that about 16 MPs in the 50-member parliament received about $350 million (259 million euros) in bribes.

The opposition has been leading a campaign to oust the premier, whom they accuse of failing to run the wealthy nation and fight corruption, which has become wide-spread.

Earlier on Wednesday, about 20 opposition lawmakers boycotted a parliamentary session, a day after the government and its supporters succeeded in rejecting a bid by the opposition to quiz the premier over allegations of corruption.

Kuwait has not been hit by major pro-reform demonstrations inspired by Arab uprisings, but the tiny Gulf nation stands out in the region because of its hardball political atmosphere. Kuwait’s parliament has the most powers of any elected body in the Gulf, and opposition lawmakers openly criticize the ruling family.

In January, Kuwait’s emir, Sheik Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, ordered 1,000 dinar ($3,559) grants and free food coupons for every Kuwaiti. Those handouts have been since dwarfed by other Gulf rulers trying to use their riches to dampen calls for political reform. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has pledged about $93 billion for more government sector jobs and services. Last month, Qatar announced pay and benefit hikes of 60 percent for public employees and up to 120 percent for some military officers.

Kuwaitis are used to a cradle-to-grave social security system that has increasingly become a burden on the government.

7 comments:

daily said...

These guys obviously couldn't find a parking space at the Avenues last night and this was the only other place they could think of to go.....well let's face it, they weren't there to demand democracy, jobs, food and human rights were they......

Andrew Zolnai said...

Interesting that I heard about it on BBC World News but not on local Kuwaiti radio... different from other local unrest however: Parliament almost dissolved itself last year and this is teethig of democracy here. Plus there isn't the economic depression and social discrimination found elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it was Kuwait's version of KMART's red light special? Maybe they should call it 'Black Friday'? You know the mega shopping day after Thanksgiving when people line up at stores to stampede for sales?

Yvonne said...

I actually heard of the 'uprising' on BBC as I drove in Seattle traffic... the newscast spliced with interviews with Kuwaitis living in the UK and commenting on how awful the educational and health systems are in Kuwait.

daily said...

@Yvonne- looool who ARE these 'kuwaitis living in Britain".....

- the health system in KUWAiT- free, as much basic medicine
( panadol,cough medicine, anti biotics etc)as you need,free operations, dental care and referrals to the UK, US or Europe for specialist treatment if you apply to the government ( who will also pay for your hosp fees/ hotel accom and that of your family) for as long as the treatment lasts.

-the education system- again free from age 4-18
scholarships for students getting high leaving certificates to unis all around the world

the PROBLEMS re the health system AND education system are in the PRIVATE sector where money makers exploit us.

Truth is that this country does more for its people from cradle to grave than any other country in the world- as for the
'kuwaitis in Britain' you heard comment,
-I'd like to see their passports. Maybe they didn't have any, and that was the cause of their complaints....but that's another story.

Desert Girl said...

Uh, I have to agree that the healthcare and education systems in Kuwait can really both use upgrading - regardless of if they are free or not. Yeah, great that they are free, but there are problems and I don't think anyone can deny that.

daily said...

Desert girl of course there are problems in any system that is free, but compare it to the rest of the world.....not only third world countries but world leaders such as the US.

When something is free, I say appreciate it and just accept it may have problems, but alhumdillah we have it,others don't.