First Published: 2012-11-06


Kuwait Emir to his people: It’s either law or chaos


Sheikh Sabah stresses there will be no leniency in confronting actions that may undermine security, vows to apply law to all without any hesitation.


Middle East Online

‘No one has the right to transgress or break the laws’

KUWAIT CITY - Kuwait's emir called on Tuesday for his people to choose between a state of law or chaos after the oil-rich Gulf state witnessed unprecedented unrest over the disputed electoral legislation.

"We are required today to choose between the state of law and constitution... or the path to chaos and undermining constitutional authority," Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said as he met commanders of the army, police and National Guard.

Around 150 protesters and 24 policemen were slightly hurt during three demonstrations over the past two weeks by the opposition, which is protesting an amendment to the electoral law.

Sheikh Sabah stressed that there will be no leniency in confronting actions that may undermine the security and stability of the OPEC member and vowed to apply the law to all without any hesitation.

He praised the commanders for efficiently handling "violence and irresponsible practices carried out by some individuals by organising illegal gatherings and processions."

The opposition, comprised of Islamists, nationalists and liberals, has vowed that it will continue its "peaceful" protests until the disputed amendment is scrapped, and have announced plans for a big gathering on Sunday.

In a televised speech on Monday, the emir said he will not withdraw the legislation he ordered on October 19 and accused the opposition of holding illegal demonstrations that have caused fear and anxiety among people.

“We understand the resentment of those whose interests were harmed by the amendment and we respect their views and their ways of expressing them within the framework of the law. However, no one has the right to transgress or break the laws that regulate freedom and the practice of civilised politics,” he said.

“I have explained the reasons for amending the electoral law and I said that it was in response to pressing interests that could not be procrastinated,” Shaikh Sabah said.

“It was meant to protect national unity, deepen democracy practices, secure equal opportunities and ensure the representation of the various segments of the society. I had the constitutional prerogative to make the decision and I made it before God and the people of Kuwait. I would not have made it otherwise,” he said in his address to Kuwaiti citizens.

Under the previous law, a Kuwaiti voter was allowed to select up to four candidates. That was reduced to one under the amendment.

The opposition claims the amendment will elect a pro-government parliament and will encourage corruption and vote-buying at the polls.

Over the past several days, state-run television has shown the 83-year-old ruler receiving a large number of delegations to express loyalty and support for his policies and actions.

The opposition claims that the turnout at its protests has been the biggest in Kuwait's history.

On Tuesday, the opposition launched what it called the "Popular Committee for Boycotting the Election." In its first message on Twitter, it insisted that the December 1 parliamentary polls are illegitimate.

Almost all opposition groups have announced they are boycotting the polls.


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