World Bulletin / News Desk
Thousands of Kuwaitis protested on Tuesday against a court ruling that effectively dissolved a parliament dominated by opposition Islamists and reinstated the previous, more government-friendly, assembly.
They packed Erada square opposite parliament in the OPEC-oil producer and chanted "we will not surrender", after lawmakers decried the ruling as a coup against the constitution and called for protests.
"We came here to say no to the previous parliament because its members were corrupt," said Khaled al-Khalifa, 24. "They stole the people's money."
Kuwait has long prided itself on having a fully elected parliament with legislative power and lively debate - unique in a region ruled by autocrats who tolerate little dissent - but the ruling al-Sabah family maintains a firm grip on state affairs.
Key cabinet posts are held by al Sabah family members and the 83-year-old emir, who has the last say in politics, reserves the right to dissolve parliament at will.
"The parliament was under attack because it went out of (the government's) control," Adel al-Damkhi, a Salafi Islamist member of the annulled assembly, told throngs of protesters at Erada square, scene of several anti-government protests.
"We can't accept less than a government that is elected by the people."
Another lawmaker, Obeid al-Wasmi, said some members of the previous parliament should be investigated for corruption rather than reinstalling the assembly.
"We have a government that doesn't listen, doesn't see and all it does is deceiving the people," he said. "Kuwait is not a chicken farm."
The protest, which gathered at least 4,000 people, according to a Reuters witness, was marked by a lack of a security presence.
The Gulf state has ushered in four parliaments in six years and was rattled by regular demonstrations last year, including one in November in which hundreds of men stormed parliament to press for the sacking of the premier at that time, who they implicated in a corruption scandal he was later cleared of.
And while it has escaped the kind of mass popular protests that has forced four Arab dictators out of office, those uprisings have heightened opposition calls for a full parliamentary democracy.
During their four months in parliament, opposition lawmakers emboldened by their success at the polls repeatedly sought to grill cabinet members, forcing the resignation of two, including the finance minister.
The cabinet, formed in February following the snap parliamentary election now ruled void, submitted its resignation on Monday in a step that could pave a way out of the crisis.
Pro-government MPs have been demanding the reinstated assembly, which the emir dissolved in December last year following months of bickering with the government, be allowed to finish its term, while opponents have threatened to block any attempt to convene it.
Optimists hope the move will give Kuwait another chance to break out of a crippling political cycle that has seen eight governments come and go in just six years and hindered any major economic reforms.
For 9th Friday in row, Palestinians demonstrate near Gaza-Israel security fence despite risk of violent Israeli response
Baghdad says strikes are pre-approved by regime in Damascus
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed a lawsuit on Tuesday claiming Anchorage Correctional Complex had violated constitutional prohibitions against "cruel and unusual punishment."
Turkmen, Arabs in oil-rich Kirkuk say results of May 12 parliamentary poll were manipulated, demand recount
Use of electronic voting machines in Iraq’s May 12 polls has led to allegations of electoral fraud
Mahmoud Abbas last year reduced salaries of 60,000 Gaza-based Palestinian Authority employees
'This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history,' Trump writes in letter
'Nikki Haley, the blood is on your hands!', one student shouted during her speech at a Texas university
Israel's West Bank settlements are illegal under international law and are bitterly opposed by Palestinians.
In a joint statement, the G7 leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States, along with the European Union, said they "are united in rejecting the electoral process" that led to the May 20 ballot.
An Iraqi refugee baby died as Belgian police was chasing a vehicle carrying illegal migrants
'If it doesn’t happen, maybe it will happen later,' American president says
Haidar al-Abadi says agreement reached with winning coalition bloc
Controversial picture of Haram al-Sharif circulates on social media